If you indulge in Facebook, you know them: the over-sharers. The ones who post a photo for every meal, complain about the morning’s traffic, and shout into the social media abyss for someone to please, please comment on their new haircut. If you find yourself falling into a different sin at the sight of your newsfeed (ahem, wrath) then you may find comfort in a new theory—those who overshare via social media are less likely to have satisfying romantic relationships. (If you identify with the eager-to-post, it may be time to delete that last status.)
Juwon Lee, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Kansas, led a series of studies that determined that the romantic counterparts of Facebook over-sharers felt less satisfaction and intimacy with their partners. Picking between one Facebook wall with just a few personal items and another that let it all hang loose, partners consistently chose the former to represent their ideal mate. High-disclosure posts also increased jealousy among the companions—learning the thoughts of loved ones at the same time as their 500 friends didn’t exactly create a feeling of intimacy.
“There’s an assumption that as a partner you’re entitled to some kind of privileged information,” Lee says. “And that’s why disclosure is so important in our culture.”
The USDA has passed a series of regulations requiring schools to offer a fruit or vegetable to students who purchase their lunch. But the kids can’t be forced to eat their nutritious side dish. So Andrew S. Hanks and a team of Cornell colleagues decided to remodel the way school cafeterias display their goods. Titling their movement the “smarter lunchroom makeover,” they made simple changes like placing fruit in nice bowls or tiered stands, alterations that took no more to implement than three hours in an afternoon and $50. The low-cost, low-effort procedure paid off: after the makeover, students were 13 percent more likely to choose fruit (and 18 percent more likely to eat it) and 23 percent more likely to grab a veggie (and 25 percent more likely to eat that).
A paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals big changes in the landscape of the U.S. Corn Belt. Images based on satellite data show that farmers in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska have converted 1.3 million acres of grassland into soybean and corn production. The data ranges from 2006 to 2011 and raises concerns on the effect these changes will have on the environment—including the loss of wildlife habitat and increased likelihood of soil erosion. With corn and soybean prices high, the crops tantalize farmers who can receive government subsidizes on crops regardless of poor harvests.
Recently granted bail, South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius claims he shot his girlfriend while he was still disoriented from just waking up, mistaking her for an intruder. Grogginess probably won’t help him escape conviction, but this Slate piece examines the validity behind his plea. Journalist Brian Palmer discusses the reality of “sleep inertia,” the period of disorientation immediately after waking up. Sleep inertia is most intense during the first five minutes after waking. Studies show that “freshly woken individuals have reduced reaction over time, poor memory and grip strength, and are exceedingly bad at math problems.” Other studies in the roundup say that the effects of sleep inertia can be detected even two hours awakening.
Tom Stafford of the BBC thinks he knows why drivers hate cyclists so much: they ignite our hatred of “free riders.” Driving, he states, is a moral activity—one with legal and informal rules, good and bad drivers, and a determined status quo. Cyclists disrupt this flow and do things drivers simply aren’t allowed to do—while sharing the same road—igniting internalized anger in drivers for people who seem to break the rules and benefit from this interaction. To channel this anger, humans rely on “altruistic punishment”—punishment that costs you as an individual, but doesn’t actually have a direct benefit. For example, driving three blocks out of your way to tell that cyclist just how infuriating their actions are.
If Grandma looks a little jealous of your Facebook account, you should let her join in. University of Arizona research suggests that people older than 65 can boost cognitive function by using Facebook. The study demonstrates that older adults who learned to use Facebook preformed 25 percent better on “tasks designed to measure their ability to continuously monitor and to quickly add or delete the contents of their working memory.” Research leader Janelle Wohltmann believes this stems from the social media site’s continuous flow of new information, which leads users to constantly update their attention.
Our ancestors were probably more proud of their teeth than we are. After extracting and examining DNA from dental plaque drawn from 34 prehistoric northern European human skeletons, a team of international researchers found that Mesolithic hunters had much healthier mouths than we do today, with almost no cavities or gum-disease-associated bacteria. These early humans lived on a meat-dominated and grain-free diet, while today we binge on carbohydrates and sugars that lead us straight into the dentist’s office.