Author Archives: Molly Samantha Arnay

Brothers- how they influence you more than you know

As I was haphazardly doing my psychology homework the other day, one video I was assigned to watch caught my attention. It was about the nature vs. nurture debate when it comes to sexual orientation. The video said that the more older brothers a boy has, the more likely he is to be homosexual. Sounds kind of crazy, right? When I first heard it, my first thought was, “what kind of evidence could they have to make a claim like that??” So I researched it more to see the studies done on the topic and if they had any validity.


 

First study- 2006

bflstudy done in 2006 was the first to test this idea. Anthony Bogeart, sexologist from Brock University, held an observational study with 944 heterosexual and homosexual men who had brothers (biological or non-biological). Bogeart studied men with both biological and non-biological brothers to see whether or not “being gay because of older brothers” was due to the just having brothers in general (nurture), or there was more to it and there was a biological factor (nature). Boegart also wanted to study the amount of time the brothers spent being raised in the same household or if they were raised together at all, and if it that had any effect on sexual orientation (if it did, this would lean towards the nurture side of the argument). His null hypothesis is that having biological older brothers has no positive influence on being homosexual and the alternative hypothesis is that having biological older brothers does make a boy more likely to be homosexual. His results suggested one should reject the null hypothesis, there is something going on, on a biological level, that makes a boy with biological older brothers more likely to be gay! He found that the time spent with the biological older brothers and  non-biological older brothers had no effect on sexual orientation. The only element that helped determine if a boy was gay or not was just having biological older brothers. So this would strongly support the nature side of the debate and also suggest that something is going on, biologically, in the carrying mother in which each son is more likely to be gay than the previous.wn2f5z1


Second study

stepbrothersmp08What is the mechanism to explain this finding? The most widely accepted theory, as given my Michael Bailey (sex researcher for Northwestern University), has to do with antibodies. A male baby in a mother’s body is a foreign object. The Y-chromosome has never been in a woman and when the female body is introduced to the male biological system in such a close way, the female body produces antibodies to try and get rid of the unfamiliar material. These maternal antibodies contain female hormones (which, in this case, are what supposedly influences sexual orientation) and the more male babies a woman has, the more of these antibodies she’ll produce. This makes the male babies born after a lot of males more likely to be gay because of the increased female hormones in the mother’s body for the duration of the pregnancy.

Is this theory to be trusted? The evidence is clearly there, in hard endpoints, that the more older brothers a male has, the more likely he is to be gay (A boy born first or without any brothers has about a 2-3% chance of being gay, but by the time a woman has her fourth son, the chance goes up to 6%). But could this pattern be due to chance? According to Bogaert (who conducted the first study) we’re still not sure. He reviewed his original study in 2013 and realized the biological mechanism was never actually tested. The mechanism is a strong theory but no test has been done to see if these antibodies actually increase with each male baby. Until then, we have strong evidence reject the null and to believe homosexuality is influenced biologically, but no concrete evidence.jonas_brothers_2009

pics-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonas_Brothers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Step_Brothers_(film)

http://lindyslanding.net/events/bluz-brothers/

http://ccp.jhu.edu/tag/brothers-for-life/

Chicken Soup- actually helpful?

It’s that time of year at Penn State- when everyone’s sick and I can’t walk into one of my lecture classes without hearing a symphony of coughs. With all the new germs around and the close proximity of living that most of us freshmen are not used to, it’s almost impossible not to experience some kind of illness during this first semester. A busy schedule makes it hard to find time for the health center, so is there anything you can do at home to shorten your cold? I’m sure we’ve all heard chicken soup helps, but does it actually? The null hypothesis would be that chicken soup doesn’t have any real affect on sickness while the alternative would be that it helps your cold in some way! I researched this old wives tale and overwhelmingly, the answer seems to be yes, it helps!

chicken-soup


First Study

Perhaps the most famous study done on this topic was by Dr. Stephen Rennard. The overall conclusion in this study was that chicken soup helps inhibit the movement of neutrophils (or “chemotaxis” of neutrophils, which is migration of an organism is due to a stimulus entering the system), Neutrophils are leukocytes (or commonly known as white blood cells) that help fight infection. This helps reduce inflammation in the upper-respiratory system, or the area that becomes inflamed when you have a cold. Anti-inflammation is just one of the suggested mechanisms for this link between chicken soup and feeling better from an illness. This chemotaxis was seen when Dr. Rennard tested different dilutions of the soup on blood samples. He observed that the more concentrated the soup was, the better job it did at inhibiting neutrophil chemotaxis. However,they found that this constraining of white blood cells was only present in the soup as a whole (the vegetables and chicken together). Each individual ingredient wouldn’t have the same effect. It does not appear that the soup being homemade or store-bought had any affects on the outcome.chick-soup

Other conjectured mechanisms about why chicken soup helps colds have been that hot fluids such as soup help to loosen congestion and help move mucus through your system quickly, giving this unwanted substance less time to settle in your system.


Second Study

This would suggest that all hot liquids would have the same effect on curing colds as soup, but one study says different. According to Mount Sinai researchers, chicken soup does a noticeably better job at moving mucus through your system than just hot water. They had 15 people with clogged nasal pathways drink either cold water, hot chicken soup or hot water. The people who had soup had the clearest system (system with the least mucus) after the experiment. The size of this experiment gives way to doubt. 15 people can only prove so much and this experiment would have to be repeated on a much larger scale and many more times of it have any credibility.


Other proposed mechanisms? Liquids and soups help a person stay hydrated. Hydration is a very underrated aspect of health, as most humans don’t even realize how dehydrated they are. Having a lot of soup at the time of illness can definitely help with hydration. Another idea is that soup has what’s known as the TLC element. Comfort is a huge part of feeling better and chicken soup is the ultimate comfort food. Having chicken soup and someone to take care of you can be just as important to recovery as medicine. Although, this idea has so many confounding variables (the soup isn’t the thing making you feel better, the love is).

It seems the first study has the most credibility and staying power. That study was done in 2000,
 yet people have been eating chicken soup to feel better for centuries. It appears this topic falls
victim to the same problem we discussed in class, that the pirates had when using lemons or
citrus to cure scurvy. They knew it was helping but they didn’t know the mechanism. This test
done by Dr. Rennard is the first real evidence we have to reject the null hypothesis and believe
that chicken soup truly helps illness!
Next time you’re sick, don’t knock this old tradition. It may really help!
Pics-

Music- how helpful is it?

I know I’m not the first person to think about this. I’m pretty sure there are even people in this class who have done blogs about this already, but it’s such a complex and fascinating topic that I’m going to attempt to tackle it myself and hopefully put my original thought into it.

So, music. We all hear it and most people love it. With so many genres to choose from it’s hard to make the blanket statement “I don’t like music” without being met with the response, “like, any music?” I think music is a way humans connect and one of those universal things we can all relate with. But is there more to it than that? Can listening to music actually increase efficiency in many aspects of the brain? Maybe even the body? I asked the question, “how helpful can music actually be?” And the answer seems to be, Very! The next time you’re playing “Closer” by The Chainsmokers on repeat or listening to whichever Kanye song is your favorite, think about how much you’re actually doing for yourself.

images

The null hypothesis of this idea is that music doesn’t have any real effect on the body while the alternative hypothesis is that people who listen to music change their mind or body in some way that music is responsible for. A lot of studies I find when researching for my blogs are correlational. After all, the easiest way to make a link between two things is to find a correlation while finding concrete evidence is a bit more difficult. In this case, there have been tangible anatomical and structural differences in a musician’s brain versus a non-musician’s brain. In a musician’s brain, the volume of grey matter in the brain is bigger (in comparison with the average amount). “Grey matter” is tissue containing neuronal cell bodies and is associated with processing information (Seeing, memory, emotion, hearing, decision-making, etc.) More grey matter means more productivity in these areas (low grey matter is typically linked with old age, bipolar disorder and smoking). So, should music be credited for this increase in grey matter? Many scientists suggest yes. Music connects cognitive functions of the brain. Music is a sequence of sound, which goes against the nature of the human brain (to separate things and put them into different categories). Music recognition relies on your working memory to put sounds together in a continual flow and trains the brain to connect things rather than isolate them. In turn, this helps a person’s memory, attention span and emotional health. How? Think about the last time you felt very sad or angry. If your brain hasn’t been trained in the way music helps, to connect different parts of your brain, you’re less likely to find a reason for this emotion and just let it stew. Music can help make neural connections between your emotions and reasoning. These kinds of things are very important in a developing brain and that’s why playing music for infants and young children is so beneficial. Before the age of 7, brain maturation is rapid and vital. Music listening at a young age is thought to enhance sensory development and create more connections between pathways in the brain. Playing music for your kids might be a good idea!

brain-training-1

As weird as it sounds, music can also have positive physical effects. In a study done in Japan, people who had group music sessions twice a month had their systolic blood pressured lowered about 5-6 points. Cardiologists at University of Maryland Medical Center have linked this to a 5-15% lowered risk of dying from a stroke/heart disease. It’s odd that something intangible can help your physical health? This shows that the connection between the body and mind is very strong and especially in healing, the mind seems to play a powerful role. In another study, patients had surgery and some listened to music after surgery, some didn’t. The ones who listened to music after needed significantly less painkillers (in this case, morphine). This could be a placebo effect, for if someone was telling you “music helps the pain”, you might involuntarily feel less pain just because you keep telling yourself you’re feeling less pain. However, the overwhelming amount of research suggests that listening to some kind of music can help physical health.

So is it a specific kind of music that improves these physical and mental functions? Or does it not matter? I found no evidence that suggests any specific type of music improves things overall (usually any kind of music you “like” seems to be what helps you most, unsurprisingly) but there is evidence that certain types of music can be more relaxing. One researcher at University of Nevada found that sounds found in nature (rain, thunder, etc.) were more soothing to people. This meant that instruments and types of music that mimicked these sounds (string instruments, drums, woodwind instruments) were more relaxing! This isn’t a shock, for human’s biology stemmed from our ancestors who lived more closely with nature and in turn, I’m sure, got very comfortable and used to the sounds of nature. Humans haven’t quite evolved past those roots with our ancestors, which is saying a lot.

f86e3b964de0a7f65506234cbfd1988c

At this point, it’s hard to say that music doesn’t have some sort of effect besides being fun to listen to at parties or in the car. Music is an integral part of society and the immense benefits make it even better. I know a lot of this information was correlational but there if we are to believe all of it, there is great reason to reject the null hypothesis. Think about this next time your parents or RA tells you to turn it down!

pics:

http://www.pawnusawoodbridge.com/buy-or-sell-instruments/

http://jonlieffmd.com/blog/unique-effects-of-music-on-the-brain

http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/music-promotion/6-tips-to-making-a-no-budget-music-video/

 

 

Can meditation change you?

Growing up, my friends and family were very into yoga and meditation. I was raised being told how healthy and helpful both were for the mind and body. I know yoga is good for the muscles as a form of exercise, but the idea that meditation is healthy for your mind never sat quite right with me. For those of you that don’t know, meditation is the act of concentrating on nothing for long periods of time. Can meditation actually change the makeup of your mind on a bio-chemical level? It seems like such an odd concept as people have been questioning how much we can actually control our minds since the beginning of time. The null hypothesis in this case would be that meditation has no affect on the brain, while the alternative hypothesis is that meditation has some sort of affect on the brain.

man-meditating

Supposedly, the way meditation changes the chemical relationships is your brain is fairly simple.     Without meditation, the medial prefrontal cortex (or the section of the brain responsible for self reflecting/ thinking about yourself i.e. daydreaming, self evaluating) is very closely related to the Insular cortex (part of the brain associated with the parietal lobes, responsible for touch or feeling) and the Amygdala (responsible for strong, intense emotion such as fear). This is a fancy way of saying whenever you feel scared of a bad physical sensation, you likely think there is a problem related to you. Psychologists have found that with meditation, these regions of the brain become less related. This means that when a problem arises, you’re less likely to think it’s related to you and more likely to look at problems objectively without personal motives. I want to speculate the way psychologists found this out.

This idea suggests that meditation trains the mind to have more rational perspective, but are there studies that show concrete evidence of this? I researched and found one study at UCLA observed 3 aspects of the brain (cortical thickness, white matter and gray matter) and found participants who meditated had slowed or even reversed brain-aging effects in comparison with the control group, or people who did not meditate. The way they observed these aspects was not mentioned and in turn, I have to believe this study was correctional. So we don’t know for certain if the meditation was the variable responsible for these effects on the brain.

meditation-class-in-old

Another study done at Yale University looked at people who had been meditating for extended periods of time, in this case it was at least 10 years. These people had less activity in brain areas linked with things such as anxiety, autism and schizophrenia. While this was observational, another study done at Northeastern University had one experimental group of participants take part in an eight-week meditation program and the control group not do anything significant to increase compassion. Then, they tested their compassion. They operationally defined this variable of “compassion” by placing a person with crutches who was having difficulty in front of the participant and seeing if they helped. 50% of the meditating participants helped the person with crutches while only 15% of other participants helped. Both these studies were correlational and didn’t account for any confounding variables. The second study (about compassion) was extremely susceptible to confounding variables because the way the variable was operationally defined was not a definite way to measure compassion, so the validity of the test has to be put in question. Other influencing variables could have been how the participant was feeling that day/ what kind of mood they were in, the appearance of the person with crutches, etc. Both these studies showed soft endpoints and lots of room for error.

So, the question remains. Does meditation actually change the makeup of your mind on a biological level? The conclusion has to be maybe.It’s quite difficult to accept anything as true when it’s a correlation between something completely intangible and immeasurable (in the case, meditation) and a hard endpoint. All the studies I found were correlational and I never saw evidence of change on a bio-chemical level. But, these correlations are fairly strong and if the information can be trusted, then we have reason to reject the null hypothesis. It appears something is going on, but like Andrew has said in class, nothing is ever proven, we just have strong evidence that it’s not due to chance!

Pictures:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g49215-d554653-Reviews-Old_Edwards_Inn_and_Spa-Highlands_North_Carolina.html#photos;geo=49215&detail=554653

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/the-power-of-meditation-sit-your-way-to-a-happier-life/

 

Count sheep fall asleep?

We all heard it growing up, if you want to fall asleep quickly, count sheep. Usually, people picture sheep jumping over a fence, one by one, and this counting it supposed to soothe a person into a deep slumber. But does it actually work?

counting-sheep-1024x768

Well, the short answer is no. It doesn’t.

The phrase originated from a 12th century book of fables, Disciplina Clericalis. The book contains a chapter in which to get the king to fall asleep, a storyteller talks about sheep and the second he does, the storyteller himself falls asleep. In ancient times, Shepherds had to keep track of their flock by counting sheep constantly and it was thought to be such a boring task that it would put a person to sleep. Since then, the times have changed as well as the validity of this tactic. Scientists at Oxford University did a study in which 41 insomniacs were split into groups. Some were told to count sheep to fall asleep, some weren’t told to think of anything specifically and the others were told to picture a relaxing scene, such as a beach. They found that the people who pictured nothing or had to count sheep didn’t have any improvement in falling asleep, but the people told to picture a relaxing environment fell asleep much quicker than the others. There are a few flaws to this study, one being that you can’t actually make anyone picture or think about what you tell them to. You can give a person instructions but in this case, the scientists can’t be sure that the subject followed them. But the more I searched, the more I realized there was no evidence to counting sheep helping sleep and lots of evidence to imagery helping sleep. So this is odd, why is such a widely believed wives’ tale appear to be false? Perhaps it’s because counting sheep is such a mundane task that people can’t do it for very long and the impulse to have to revert back to it keeps the mind occupied and therefore, unable to fall asleep. Michael Decker, Ph.D., thinks counting sheep may not work because keeping track of them is work. This work may stimulate the mind and in turn, make a person unable to fall asleep. Keeping the brain active while trying to fall asleep has proven more harmful than helpful.

sleep-funny

 

So if counting sheep isn’t the way to do it then the question has to be asked, what does make a person fall asleep? Well, many suggest that imagining a calm scene helps a lot. But what else? Something most people do right before bed that can be a huge inhibitor of sleep is looking at a screen. Even more than counting sheep, a screen stimulates the brain and keeps it active, telling itself “there’s light, so it’s time to be up and awake!” Giving the body time before sleep with no screens or distractions is very helpful. Clinical psychologist, Janet Kennedy suggests taking a full hour before bed time to settle down the mind and body. This time is supposed to help the body transition from day to night.

It seems winding down the body and mind (picturing calming scenery, not looking at bright light) is the best way to ensure falling asleep but many people don’t have the luxury of time to wind down. Going from day to night quickly, light to no light, can be shocking to the body. Most modern humans have artificial light in their lives (their homes, offices, stores, etc.) and it triggers the mind to stay awake during biologically unnatural hours (humans are supposed to be asleep at night). Turning lights off abruptly and ordering the body to rest may be a harsh way to get introduced into a night’s sleep. How does one fix this? Evidence suggests that practicing imagery and calming breathing exercises throughout the day actually helps one fall asleep at night. If a person can remain tranquil during the day, with light constantly surrounding them, the transition into the night and darkness is much easier. Our bodies are not as easily manipulated as we may think and sometimes we need to train ourselves into certain behaviors. Falling asleep is definitely one of these behaviors that many people need help with.

I may have gotten a little off topic there and of course, these tactics aren’t a way to always ensure a good night’s sleep. There are many confounding variables that can determine how well a person can fall asleep (ex. uncontrollable noise or light in the room one is trying to sleep in, physical pain at the time of sleep) but the integral concept remains. Keeping the mind active at night, even just the simple act of counting sheep, can really hinder sleep. The best way to prevent this is to give yourself time before falling asleep to relax and even stay relaxed throughout the day. Remember this when you just can’t seem to get to sleep!

 

Pictures:

https://baptiststoday.org/forget-counting-sheep-do-this-instead/

http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMi04NTc3YjU0YjJiNTBlODMz

 

 

 

What actually makes us happy

Most people in this world are searching for happiness. It’s what we’ve been told to achieve ever since we were born. Everyone wants to be happy. But this concept of “happy” can get lost in interpretation. What really makes a person happy? Is it this typical image of successful, wealthy and good-looking? Or is there more to it than that? Can we buy happiness or does it come from within?

While what truly makes a person happy varies with the individual, researchers have found that experiences make people happier almost all the time in comparison to possessions. This is for a variety of reasons

The main reason experiences make people happier than material things is because the happiness from an experience lasts longer. You’ll never forget that amazing time you and your friends stayed up until 3 am talking and eating pizza, but you’ll quickly become tired of that trendy sweater. The initial bliss that comes with that most recent purchase is more likely to fade than a memory. A study done by Ryan Howell, a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, questioned 154 students about a purchase they made within the past 3 months. The purchase could be a possession or an experience. Overwhelmingly, the people that discussed an experiential purchase showed higher rates and longer-lasting rates of contentment. Happiness that derives from an experience will only increase with time while happiness from a possession will flee as material things quickly become obsolete. Also, a lot of happiness in a “thing” comes from anticipation and not the actual thing. Sometimes, the happiness never quite “arrives” where as with an experience, it always does and you can always look back fondly. According to journalist James Hamblin, even if its a bad experience, it might make a funny story!

According to Howell, another reason that experiences generate more sustainable joy than possessions is because they involve other people and human connection is a major root of internal delight. Getting closer with other people has proven to make a person happier. Also, experiences increase a sense of feeling alive and exhilarated. This feeling is never going to come from a new pair of shoes or new phone, but it definitely will from a concert or trip to a different country.

My mom always said that comparison is the root of all unhappiness and all signs point to this being true. Cornell psychology professor Thomas Gilovich’s research suggests that people aren’t as likely to compare the joy of their experiences whereas people tend to compare the value of their possessions often. In one study, psychology professor Daniel Gilbert asked a group of people (the ages and number of participants in unknown- not giving total credibility to this study) if they would rather have a high salary that is lower than their coworkers or a low salary that is higher than that of their coworkers. The answers were pretty much half and half. But when the same participants were asked if they would rather have two vacations weeks while their coworkers only get one, or four vacation weeks while their coworkers get eight, the overwhelming majority of participants chose the latter. This shows that most people don’t feel the need to compete and compare experiences but often people compare possessions.

Happiness varies from person to person but these studies suggest the next time you’re between using that next paycheck to go out with friends or buy that new shirt, go with your friends. You’ll be happier in the long run.

chart-science

Sources: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/buy-experiences/381132/

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/10/happiness.possessions/

Photo: Kumar et al, Psychological Science/The Atlantic

What makes us buy?

I’ve always been interested in marketing. I love learning what makes humans susceptible to advertisements and what makes a brand appealing to a consumer. The concept of selling and buying is fairly superficial, even when you break it down and yet, it is what every country’s  economy is based on. So what makes people buy so much? I find it strange that we are so receptive to advertisements and brands and we aren’t even aware of it. According to Joshua Becker, a human behavior specialist, humans view about 5,000 advertisements and brands each day. And what’s even weirder is that we don’t even realize it. According to Sheree Johnson, consumer psychologist, the number of pure advertisements we see per day is about 362 and yet, the average “noted” number of advertisements is 153. We see so many ads and don’t even internalize them! Subliminally, they make their way into out subconscious and this constant exposure is one of the many ways companies get consumers to buy.

Another way companies make us buy what their selling is by appealing to our nature. It’s in human nature to “save.” Money, time, material things, humans like to save them. According to Philip Graves, consumer behavior specialist, back in prehistoric time, the urge to save became imbedded in our biology. Humans had to save wood and food and other resources for the winter if they wanted to survive. While these primal needs are no longer a concern for many people, the instinct to “save” is still in us. Brands and companies appeal to this instinct by convincing us that if we buy their products, we’ll somehow end up saving more in the long run.

geico-savings

Have you ever had a night when all your friends were going out and even if you didn’t quite feel like it, you went out too? It was probably because you had a fear of missing out. This is completely normal human behavior and it’s another way companies attract buyers. They engage the instinct in you that’s saying “If you don’t do this right now, you’ll be missing out on something great and not have the opportunity to get it back!” According to Graves, this is called the loss aversion switch and this is why many companies put “limited time offer” on many of their advertisements, even if the offer is not for a limited time only. It’s also why you’ll tend to receive emails with timers on them, it’s so you feel the need to rush and buy. Companies want you to feel like you have to buy this RIGHT NOW or you won’t be able to ever again.

limited-time

Another way companies gain the interest of people is buy convincing them that if they buy this product, their current problems will fade away. More often than not, companies will create the problem and convince the buyer that they have the problem and the product will fix it. According to psychologist Gareth Goh, companies will instill in its viewers the idea that “you have the power to change your problems with this product, so why wouldn’t you buy it?” If we feel that a product will take away our pain or leave us in a better place we were before, we’re likely to buy it.

And finally, a ploy that will make us all feel five years old, if you touch or play with a product, you are more likely to buy it. According to marketing professor at UCLA, Suzanne Shu, touching a product instills a sense owning the it already. This emotional attachment makes a consumer more likely buy it. So if you feel like you can’t keep your hands off, get ready to buy!

These and many more are tactics companies use to draw us into buying what their selling. Don’t fall for them!

sources:  http://www.insightsquared.com/2014/07/why-buyers-buy-the-psychology-of-purchase-decisions/http://www.becomingminimalist.com/fooled/https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/consumer-behavior/201303/five-reasons-we-impulse-buyhttps://sjinsights.net/2014/09/29/new-research-sheds-light-on-daily-ad-exposures/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/26/retail-science-tricks-_n_6525062.html

photos:  https://www.truthinadvertising.org/every-single-auto-insurance-ad/http://www.pngall.com/limited-offer-png

 

 

The Science of Beauty

Human beings’ opinions vary in almost every aspect of life. When you think of “beautiful”, everyone has different traits that come to mind. Some people prefer blue eyes and blonde hair, some like of a darker complexion and some can appreciate a multitude of looks. While these differences in what is viewed as attractive can range, why are some people internationally accepted as beautiful? You’re going to have a hard time arguing that Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley, Miranda Kerr, Robert Redford or Zac Efron isn’t attractive. Here’s why:

The Ancient Greeks were one of the first civilizations to think about the standards of beauty and just exactly why some people were considered beautiful by all. It was Greek philosopher Plato who came up with certain proportions known at the time as the “golden proportions.” While most modern day civilizations no longer think of these specifics as the standard of beautiful, this sparked the idea that universally, some people are just more attractive. Nowadays, studies have shown that a symmetrical face is the number one feature that people find attractive. Babies are more likely to stare at a picture of a symmetric face as opposed to an asymmetric one. A study done at New Mexico State University found that when people rated faces on attractiveness on a scale from one to ten, all the faces rated “ten” were very symmetrical. This love for symmetry is not just baked into the biology of humans, but also animals. Swallows have been found to prefer mates with more symmetric tails and female zebra finches were found more likely to mate with other finches that have symmetrically colored leg rings.

perf faceAlexandre Bonadiman by Julio Torres

While this attraction to symmetry is pretty universal, there are very specific features in Western civilization that have been consistently seen as beautiful. Studies have shown that men often prefer a smaller nose and jaw, chiseled cheekbones and big eyes on women while women like heart shaped faces with a small chin, light skin and big lips. Both of these profiles matches what is known as a “baby face” and the reason people find these youthful faces attractive is because a baby face suggests a strong life partnership and promising reproductive success.

There are also things that are not necessarily physical that are thought of as attractive. Kindness and friendliness have been found to play a key role in what is seen at beautiful. A study done at college found that 70% of students thought a professor was attractive when he acted in a friendly way as opposed to only 30% that did when he was acting in a stand-offish way.

These standards of beauty have changed immensely throughout the years and will continue to change. Who knows what people will consider “beautiful” in 30 years!

Sources:

http://legacy.jyi.org/volumes/volume6/issue6/features/feng.html

Photos:

https://www.wemakespokanesmile.com/illness-adaptability-reflected-facial-symmetry/

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjXoaSljfHOAhXBJiYKHao1Ar8QjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftheperfecthumanface.blogspot.com%2F2013_12_15_archive.html&bvm=bv.131669213,d.eWE&psig=AFQjCNEm_zt1d5-u88R3EsyczZeY1_mniw&ust=1472920121588983

 

Not a science person

Hey everyone! My name is Molly Arnay and I’m from Princeton, NJ. I’m currently in the Public Relations/ Advertising major, which is about as far of from science as possible. I took physics, chemistry, biology and environmental science in high school and never quite liked any of them. I typically try to avoid science and math at all costs, they are definitely not my strong suits. I do find science interesting when it is delivered in the right form and I am a pretty environmentally conscious person but these science courses were very dry and the information never stuck with me, so i guess that’s why I’m not a science major.

I chose this science course for a few reasons. My advisor said that it was a science course for people who didn’t love science, and that is definitely me. She said there was a lot of blogging involved which sounded interesting and new to me. And also this class fulfilled a requirement for my major, but nonetheless I’m happy I’m taking this course because the topics actually seem intriguing to learn about and I like the way the class is run.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3022942/work-smart/the-surprising-science-behind-what-music-does-to-our-brains

I chose this link because with my PR degree, I hope to go into the music industry. This article details what different kinds of music do to your brain!music brain pic science