Author Archives: Madison Taylor

Coffee Addiction Points to Genetics

As I sat down to write this blog post, I was hoping that the coffee I was sipping on would give me that extra boost I needed to make it through the day.  I sat at my desk for about ten minutes just trying to think of a topic to blog about.  Then it hit me, as I was drinking my coffee, I began to wonder if there was a connection between coffee addiction and genetics.  Icoffee drink coffee every single day, as many college students do, and   I have become dependent on it to make it through all of my classes and assignments.     I recognize that I have a caffeine addiction, however, it never really occurred to me that it could be because of my parents’ coffee addictions.  Upon just a simple search online, I uncovered a recent study showing that coffee addiction can in fact be genetic.              (Image)

On August 25, 2016, Alexandra Sifferlin of TIME Magazine published an article describing the recent research performed on coffee addiction, which ties it back to genetics.  The study took participants from two locations, Italy and the Netherlands, and juxtaposed their responses.  The participants from each of the two locations were asked to report how much coffee they consume each day.  In total, about three-thousand people were surveyed and gave their responses.  Researchers found a connection between the gene PDSS2, which regulates caffeine in the body, and how much coffee people drink.  The more interesting discovery though, was that people with more of the gene PDSS2 drink coffee less frequently than those who carry less of the gene PDSS2.  The bodies of those with more of the PDSS2 gene also tend to break down caffeine over a longer period of time than those with less of PDSS2 (Sifferlin 2016).

TIME Magazine reported that this recent study between coffee consumption and genetics is not the only one of its kind.  A study conducted in October of 2014, found that there are multiple genes associated with how much coffee people drink.  The 2014 study found six different genetic indicators related to how the body reacts to caffeine consumption (Molecular Psychiatry 2014).  Although TIME Magazine reported on a connection that has been looked into before, their report revealed a major discovery for caffeine consumption and addiction.

This article published by TIME Magazine introduced me to the connection between genetics and caffeine addiction for the first time.  While it does make sense that the two are related, I had never really put much thought into it before.  Although I have no proof that my body carries a low abundance of the gene PDSS2, I can assume so based on my personal high coffee consumption.  I’ll be sure to call my parents and thank them for making me a coffee addict as soon as I publish this blog post.

Curious about whether or not you are drinking coffee at optimal times?  Check out this video which explains when you should be drinking coffee.

Is Procrastination Helping or Hurting You?

For as long as I can remember, I have been a procrastinator.  I procrastinated on assignments in middle school, and especially in high school.  I realize that my procrastinaprocrasttion habits are usually detrimental in some way, yet I continue to procrastinate.  However, with the beginning of my collegiate career, I am attempting to change my procrastination habits.  I do wonder if it is possible to abandon procrastination completely, but I figure that it is at least worth a shot.  After all, only good things can come from getting assignments done ahead of time. (Image)


According to Eric Jaffe, procrastination is when you willingly put off a task that needs completed, even though you know that there will be negative consequences because of your decision.  You decide for yourself when you will complete certain tasks, and the act of postponing them illustrates poor self-control, which is a key component of procrastination.  We often put a task off temporarily in order to participate in a more exciting or interesting activity.  For example, you may put off studying for a test that’s a few days away in order to be able to attend a concert.  However, research suggests that people are aware that the consequences of choosing the more entertaining activity are bad in the long run, but choose to participate in it anyway. 

Studies dating back to the 1990s suggest that procrastinators almost always perform more poorly than students who do not procrastinate. Psychological Science researches Dianne Tice and Roy Baumeister found interesting results from a study performed on college students.  At first, the researchers found that there was a benefit to procrastination and the time-crunch that it forced students to work within.  However, by the time the two finished the study they were able to conclude that the few advantages of procrastination were far outweighed by the plentiful disadvantages.  The researchers concluded that the students who procrastinated received lower grades for their work.  In addition to worse grades than those who did not procrastinate, those who did found themselves feeling much more stressed as a result of their procrastination (Tice, D. M., & Baumeister, R. F. 1997).

So, what can I do to help fight my procrastination?  While not all of these strategies used to lessen the likelihood of procrastination will work for everyone, hopefully you will find at least one that works for you.  One possible way to eliminate procrastination from your life is to take assignments/ tasks and break them down into smaller sections.  By doing so, each small section will feel less intimidating than the overall assignment and can be completed in more effective, short bursts.  Researchers Dan Airely and Klaus Wertenbroch suggest setting your own individual deadlines before an actual due date.  The two researchers say that if people who usually procrastinate try setting their own personal deadlines, they may evoke more meaning from the deadlines, and are then more likely to meet the deadlines (Ariely, D., & Wertenbroch, K. 2002).  Rewarding yourself after completing a task or meeting a deadline is also found to be more effective than beating yourself down after procrastinating.

I took courses over the summer here at Penn State, and I did manage to reduce the amount that I procrastinate by a decent amount.  The strategy that I find to be the most helpful is setting my own individual deadlines.  If I meet my deadlines, I then reward myself.  I have found the combination of those two strategies work the best for me.  Procrastination will definitely hurt you more than it will ever help you, but if you put in enough effort it can be avoided.

Addicted to Your Phone?

My absolute best friend is addicted to her iPhone, or at least I think that she is.  She will ask me a question as simple as “how were your classes today?” and in my answer I describe the good and the bad parts of my day.  However, as soon as I finish my answer, I look to her for a response, and surely enough, she has completely ignored what I just said because she was texting.  I used to think that she was just bad at multitasking, until I realized that it’s as if she cannot hear a single word I say when she is on her phone.  Now, after being best friends for nine years, I have learned to wait to speak until she is not staring at her phone.  While I have never asked her if she thinks she is addicted to her phone, I have made some sly comments about her cell phone usage to her.  Each time I do, she just casually brushes it off and says something like “I love to text”, but I know that it is possible for her to be addicted.


According to PsychGuides, teenagers are the group that are the most likely to become addicted to their phones.  Our generation is truly the first to grow up with such regular cell phone use, and the generations after us are being exposed to phones earlier each year.  Our generation does not know what it is like to not have access to a phone at all times, and therefore, phones have become a kind of security blanket for teens.  The use of social media is also another large factor that draws in teens, and is used daily by most.   Teens become obsessed with seeing what their peers are doing because it is just one click away.  The development of social media has been great in improving communication among people, however, it may be to blame for why teens are so susceptible to phone addiction (Psych Guides). (Image)

While the concept of cell phone addiction is fairly new, there are many symptoms that have been identified to describe a cell phone addict.  One of these symptoms includes an increased amount of time using the device, in exchange for the same result achieved previously with less time.  This symptom is similar to the notion of drug tolerance- the need to increase a dosage in order to be able to experience the same outcome.  Feeling anxious or angry when you are unable to use your cell phone can be traced back to the symptom of withdrawal.  Many addicts may feel deprived when they are experiencing withdrawal.  Another one of the most common symptoms of cell phone addiction is being absorbed within the content on your phone, sometimes so much so, that you fail to acknowledge anything else going on around you.  These symptoms are just a few of many that characterize cell phone addicts.

In addition to the psychological symptoms of cell phone addiction, there are also various physical effects that result from overuse of cell phones.  Staring at the screen of a phone for two hours or more can lead to physical straining of the eyes.  Eye strain is commonly characterized by irritated eyes, and sometimes a burning sensation occurs.  Spending lengthy amounts of time on cell phones also leads to the increased exposure to illness breeding germs.  According to an article published by South University, fecal matter can be found on the surface of nearly 17% of all cell phones (South University 2013).  Besides a heightened risk of illnesses, Fnu Deepinder, Kartikeya Makker, and Ashok Agarwa found that the radiation released by cell phones can potentially decrease the sperm count of males (Deepinder, Makker, Agarwa 2007).  The physical consequences linked back to too much cell phone use may not seem like a big deal, but they may be taking quite a toll on overall health.

There’s a Science to Why I Don’t Like Science

Hi, my name is Maddie Taylor.  I am from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, and I am a freshman this year.  I plan to major in Marketing, although I am in DUS for now.  While I did not hate science during high school, it certainly was not the highlight of my day.  Biology, chemistry, and physics were never my thing, however, I did enjoy AP environmental science my senior year.  So, as I sat with my advisor trying to schedule my first semester of classes, I quickly eliminated just about every science that I had previous experience with, especially those with lab requirements.  After about ten minutes of unsuccessful searching through LionPath for a science course, my advisor finally recommended that I take this class, SC200.  I read the course description and I was immediately intrigued; I had finally found a science course that interests me!  The added bonus was perhaps reading the words “this course assumes no background knowledge”, which convinced me that I should definitely take this course.  I look forward to further developing my ability to think critically as well as my scientific knowledge overall.

Here is a link to the type of science articles that I can actually tolerate reading.  (I love BuzzFeed)

As you may be able to tell from what I just told you, I am certainly not planning on becoming a science major.  That would be a disaster.  I always received decent grades in my science courses, however, they were usually my lowest grades out of all of my classes.  Science and I do not seem to get along; it has never really clicked for me.  My roommate here at PSU is a science major, and I can honestly say that every reading and assignment she tells me about just sound absolutely dreadful.  I have always preferred humanities courses over math and science courses, and I know that my future career will not be enjoyable to me if it is science based.  That being said, I have always enjoyed things that allow me to be creative and express myself.  I love fashion and I work retail, so the business side of fashion is of great interest to me as a potential career option.  While I do not have anything personal against science or science majors, I know that it is not my calling.