Author Archives: Ashley Elizabeth Day

Are Fat People Happier Than Skinny People?

I was recently out to a local restaurant and observed two couples having dinner. The two couples were vastly different; one couple appeared to be quite skinny where the other couple could be classified as fat or obese. From my vantage point, the couple who was skinny in classification did not appear to be having near as much fun as the larger counterparts across the dining area. The couple who were large carried on a lively conversation with laughter and animation whereas, the skinny couple were sullen and disengaged. This observation made me wonder if indeed, fat people are happier than skinny people?

While researching, I came across an article at Elite Daily that suggests there is such a thing as the ‘fat gene’. This fat gene  is known as FTO (fat mass and obesity associated), or the happy gene. This article goes on to note that while FTO is the major contributor to obesity, it is also associated with a reduction in depression. Researchers hypothesized a connection between depression and obesity and brain activity. Scientists noted that although a small number, there is still a connection between FTO and happiness.



As outlined in another article on the website, Indiatoday, patients enrolled in the EpiDream study, were found to be happy and showed no signs of depression. The study utilized 17,200 DNA samples from participants in 21 countries. Researchers found that those with the FTO gene showed significantly less signs of depression. The outcomes have forged discussion and research in reference to FTO and future medical treatment.


As documented in the International Journal of Obesity, genetic researchers have determined that the FTO gene makes the body store fat, thus the onset of obesity. FTO also affects how full one is, food intake and controls hunger. O’Rahilly, Clinical Biochemistry Professor at University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories, connected FTO activity with hypothalamic activity. The hypothalamus is a powerful part of the brain, controlling many functions, such as sleep, thirst, hunger, metabolism, growth and development. O’ Rahilly’s notations concerning the presence of FTO was more of a connection to eating behaviors, thus risking obesity, than it was to emotion and happiness. Research regarding FTO’s link to obesity and other health issues appears to be gaining momentum.


Research regarding FTO’s link to obesity and other health issues appears to be gaining momentum. Clinicians continue to research for ways or perhaps even a drug that will curb obesity and the link to FTO.  However, the research concerning the link between the happy gene known as FTO and depression is still in the early stages. I have to wonder still, if fat people are truly happier than skinny people. What I have found is that the data is inconclusive about the true correlation between fat people and happiness, but discovered a great deal of interest in FTO and its connection to obesity.

Why Do People Dislike Their Selfies?

If you are like me when you take selfies, you take about 100 at a time. That might be a slight exaggeration, but you still take a hefty handful of them. Out of that large amount, it’s lucky if I like two of them let alone even one. Many people, like myself, obsess over their selfies and over analyze them because we think we look bad.  That perception has to do with the brain.

Our brain is used to seeing ourselves in a mirror from our reflection all the time. It has trained itself to become familiar with that image. According to Pamela Rutledge from the Media Psychology Center, familiarity leads to liking, and our brain has a fondness for that exact image.

How do I look one way in the mirror and the total opposite in a selfie? Eileen Shim at Mic notes it’s simply due to a flipped image. When taking selfies or pictures of yourself, some photo apps flip your image. This may be confusing to the viewer. The selfie appears and orients as others would see the subject.  Due to the brain becoming accustomed to viewing images in a specific way, any image that strays from the preferred image looks odd and is ill-received. Take this example of Abraham Lincoln.

True image of Lincoln. Source:

True image of Lincoln.

Mirrored image of Lincoln Source:

Mirrored image of Lincoln

The image on the top is the image most people are aware of and familiar with.  However, the flipped image just isn’t right. Our brain is so accustomed to seeing the one version  that the other image is unfamiliar. The reversed image could be that of a long lost twin, but it’s not the same Lincoln that we know and recall. Of course, it is the same exact picture but in mirror image, but our brain associates them as being very different. Our brain also does this with our selfies, as our faces are not symmetrical.

Tabitha Leggett notes in her BuzzFeed post, that our faces are a combination of two asymmetrical halves. She documented and credited the work of photographer, Alex John Beck with proving this point. If one were to take two halves of their face, in replication, and combine them to form a whole or complete face, the results might be unexpected. So, paired mirror images will produce differences ranging from subtle to very clear, as demonstrated in the photo below. Often, this result is so deforming or odd, our brain automatically dislikes the selfie.



Lastly, selfie images are distorted due to camera angle and proximity, and not different lenses. Daniel Baker, lecturer in psychology, notes distortion occurs due to the fact that facial features closer to the camera appear to be larger or exaggerated. So, distance, according to Baker, position of the camera is an important part in the quest for a perfect selfie. The more distance one can put between the face and the phone will result in a much better outcome. A perfect selfie comes from knowing these facts: we have an innate desire and fondness for a perfect mirror image, the face is not symmetrical, and utilizing more distance while taking a selfie, may all result in that perfect shot.


Does Clothing Make the Man?

Let’s face it, in order to be a participant in society and function as a member of society, one must cover his or her body. To begin it, we wear clothing for the most basic of reasons, modesty. For the most part, humans do a great job in remaining modest and respecting others in regard to nudity and a sense of decency.  Identification and status, however, are linked to first impressions and perception. Perception may be superficial, but a first impression occurs within seconds of meeting someone or just through a casual glance. Clothing as identification and status, suggests employment, rank, power, and position within a society. It is worth noting, that self-perception and productivity is based on appearance, as well.

According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Kraus notes clothing as an important force in business affairs and success. Men were asked to wear different forms of attire and enter negotiations concerning the sale of a make-believe factory. The control group wore clothing they arrived in, while two other groups were asked to wear dress attire and casual attire. Those wearing the dress attire were more successful and were less willing to back-down in negotiations. The control group was in the middle with results, while those men clothed in sweatpants and casual attire had the least amount of success and the most concessions. 

sweat v suits


In another recent study by Adam and Galinsky of Northwestern University, clothing promotes the appearance of professionalism and subconsciously feeling more professional. This would suggest  dressing in sloppy, loose-fitting clothes compared to business attire at the office greatly impacts work performance. Adam and Galinsky performed several experiments exploring perception as related to clothing and what they term, “embodied cognition”. This is merely the combination of thinking not only with our brains, but with physical experiences, as well.

Although several experiments were conducted, the one standing out the most, notes an increase in productivity in tasks and attention. In the experiment, participants were asked to wear what was suggested to be a doctor’s coat, a painter’s coat, or were just asked to view a doctor’s coat while looking for differences between pictures. The participants wearing the doctor’s coat were able to perform simple tasks and find more differences than those participants in a painter’s coat or not wearing a coat at all.

Judgement and perception will always play an important role in dressing man. What a person wears affects how he or she is perceived, even self-perception. If one dresses for success and respect, it would seem that first impressions would be good, followed by success. Clothing offers a sense of trust, an implied level of respect, and better performance. You decide, at an upcoming appointment to have a root canal, would you rather have your dentist greet you while dressed in a casual pair of sweatpants and a beloved PSU t-shirt and sneakers or a white medical jacket or some sort of medical attire?


Initial Blog Post

Hi SC 200!
My name is Ashley Day and I am a freshman here at Penn State. I am from Allentown, PA. Shout out to anyone else in this class from the LV (aka the Lehigh Valley). I have much appreciation for where I come from even though I complain about it just as much as I praise it. The whole transition to college has been daunting. I’ll be honest I am a bit homesick. I miss my friends and my cat the most.
Click HERE to listen to Billy Joel sing Allentown. Shout out to my hometown. Its all about the Lehigh Valley, specifically Bethlehem and Allentown, and the decline of the steel industry. The steel industry was actually only in Bethlehem but Allentown just flowed better for songwriting purposes. Residents of Allentown had mixed emotions to the song, but in the end it’s Billy Joel and everyone got over it. The mayor of Allentown even ended up giving him the key to the city. The song was praised my the mayor for being a gritty song about a gritty city.


That’s my best friend and I on graduation, June 2016. ( I’m on the left)

To be totally honest with you, I am taking this course because the randomly assigned advisor given to me at NSO said it was a good course. At first I gave him a reassuring nod that meant I at least acknowledged him but in reality I brushed him off. All I had ever heard about picking classes was to pick classes you’re actually interested in. So when he gave me that piece of information, I kept scrolling through the immense amount of courses offered here to try and find one myself. Point of the story is when I came to SC200 and read the course description I knew it was a class I would enjoy. Knowing this course wasn’t an actual science class and wouldn’t involve intensive research, I was in. I am excited for the semester ahead in this course.

Knowing this course wasn’t a “real” science class was one of the reasons I took it. With that in mind, I must not really like science. Well I dislike science enough to not major in it.  Throughout grade school I never preformed poorly in science and honestly I enjoyed it. In high school I even took AP chemistry and did surprisingly well. As I learned throughout AP chem the amount of time and patience science entails. I wouldn’t say that I’m an impatient person but I know I don’t have the patience to major in science. The endless research I just wouldn’t enjoy. For the cherry on top, my mom is dating my previous chemistry (10th grade) and AP chemistry (11th grade) teacher (same person) that I had in high school. I spent two full years with that teacher and to be honest I didn’t even truly like him. So any enjoyment I got from science was quickly stripped away after I knew they were together. (That might have been too much information, but it’s the truth.)

That’s all I got! I look forward to the semester ahead with an open mind! 🙂