Interesting news out of the Netherlands: A new study suggests the way you physically lean affects how you estimate quantities (like sizes, numbers, and percentages).
We think of smaller numbers as being to the left and larger numbers to the right, researchers say. So when participants estimated answers to questions, they chose smaller numbers when leaning to the left. (There was no difference in estimates when they leaned to the right or stood straight up.)
Though researchers say posture has no effect when you know an answer, they say it influences you when you’re unsure. So the next time you wonder how much liquor is in that lemon drop, maybe try not to lean left. Wouldn’t want to overindulge because you guessed low!
So what do you think of this study? Does it sound right (ha) to you?
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If you feel more irritable when you’re hungry, hormones may be to blame.
Levels of serotonin—a hormone that helps regulate behavior—fluctuate when people are stressed or haven’t eaten, finds a new study from the University of Cambridge. And when levels are low, researchers say, communication between certain parts of the brain is weaker than normal, which may make it harder for the brain to control emotional responses to anger.
Wait a minute. This could explain why some morning drivers are so aggressive: They skipped breakfast! So let’s just think of this study as another reason to eat healthy meals…and snacks in between.
What about you? Do you ever feel more angry when you haven’t eaten?
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I really love organic food—I get happy going to Whole Foods—but a new study made me think. We may believe that organic foods are nutritious and that they taste better, but, according to new research, our minds may be playing tricks on us.
A total of 144 people participated in a double blind, controlled trial at a mall, according to this press release. (Yep…a mall. But keep reading!) Graduate student Jenny Wan-chen Lee of Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics asked participants to taste and evaluate several products: “conventional” and “organically produced” chocolate sandwich cookies, plain yogurt, and potato chips. But—and this is the important part—all of the products were actually organic.
Lee found some interesting results:
- Participants preferred the taste of almost all of the “organically labeled” food, even though those foods were the same as the “conventional” products.
- Participants thought organically labeled foods were significantly lower in calories, lower in fat, and higher in fiber.
- Overall, participants thought the organically-labeled chips and cookies were “more nutritious” than their conventional counterparts.
It’s reported that Lee is the “first to acknowledge” that the study’s variety of foods is limited, though she’s confident that these kinds of assumptions (called the “halo effect”) are important when it comes to what we eat and how much. (People who think they’re eating nutritious food may be more likely to consume more calories or overeat.)
My take-home point? Even if our organic cookies and chips taste delicious, their labeling does not make it okay to always eat supersize portions!
So what do you think? Do organic foods really taste better, or do we just like them because of their labels?
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