TIME psychology

This Is Why You Overshop in Ikea

We take you through the popular furniture and home goods store to show you how the layout affects your buying habits

It’s easy to overshop. But at Ikea, it’s almost impossible not to spend more than you originally budgeted.

That’s because the Swedish furniture retailer designs its stores to trigger impulse purchases while making it difficult for shoppers to make a mad dash for the exits. It’s a way to take advantage of Americans’ changing shopping habits, which TIME’s Josh Sanburn detailed in this week’s magazine.

Our current phase of overconsumption began about 30 years ago, when Americans began committing close to half of their annual expenditures to nonnecessities. It was the beginning of a gradual decline in the cost of consumer goods, the growth of everyday credit-card use and the rise of big-box stores and discount retailers that pushed their way into communities nationwide, forcing down prices and profits for those competing around them.

In the past decade, the cost of cell phones, toys, computers and televisions has plunged, thanks in part to overseas manufacturing. The rise of “fast fashion”–popularized by the growth of clothing outlets like Gap, Forever 21 and American Eagle selling $10 T-shirts and $30 jeans–is now driven by low-cost imports H&M and Uniqlo. Today the average U.S. household has about 248 garments and 29 pairs of shoes. It purchases, on average, 64 pieces of clothing and seven pairs of shoes annually, at a total cost of $1,141 a year, or $16 per item.

“When the question is why do we have so much stuff, one reason is because we can,” says Annie Leonard, executive director of the environmental group Greenpeace USA and the creator of The Story of Stuff, an animated video about excessive consumerism. “For a huge percentage of this country, there is no longer an economic obstacle to having the illusion of luxury. It’s just that this stuff is so cheap.”

Watch the video above to go inside one Ikea store in Brooklyn and see how its strategy works, and read more here.

Read next: My House Is Ground Zero in the Clutter Wars

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TIME Islamist Extremism

Inside ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Battle for Brand Supremacy

They may share similar goals but the two groups are bitter rivals

Four days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 17 people, a video surfaced online showing one of the gunmen, Amedy Coulibaly, pledging allegiance in broken Arabic to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Earlier that week, another assailant, Chérif Kouachi, in a telephone interview to French television claimed allegiance to a different jihadist group: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. “We acted a bit together and a bit separately,” he said. Kouachi was later killed by police.

With an investigation of the attacks still ongoing, it remains unclear how closely the gunmen actually coordinated with the two terrorist organizations or between themselves. But the episode offers a glimpse of new undercurrents fueling Islamic terrorism: al-Qaeda is no longer the key player when it comes to Islamist terrorism against the West. Instead, multiple jihadi groups cooperate, and at times compete with one another.

That transformation is in full display with the recent successes of ISIS, which have re-invigorated jihadist movements worldwide, explained Katherine Zimmerman, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “ISIS is only spurring the race toward violent jihad,” she said.

One of the key forces fueling this revival is ISIS’s head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a native Iraqi with a PhD in Islamic Studies and the track record of an ambitious leader.

Unlike heads of other al-Qaeda’s main affiliates who climbed the ladders of the group’s central leadership, al-Baghdadi rose in the ranks of one of its offshoots, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and doesn’t have a direct, personal relationship with the rest of the network.

In April 2013, al-Baghdadi announced that he was extending his group’s activities from Iraq into Syria. To reflect the change, he renamed al-Qaeda in Iraq to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS.

The move reportedly took al-Qaeda’s head by surprise. In 2014, the group formally dissociated itself from its affiliate in Iraq and Syria, culminating years of feuding between the two organizations. ISIS “is not a branch of the al-Qaeda group … does not have an organizational relationship with it and [al-Qaeda] is not the group responsible for their actions,” al-Qaeda’s general command said in a statement.

The extent of the break’s shockwave is yet to be fully measured. But from the sidelines, observers have taken note of the new balance of power.

Recent signs of the tug-of-war include reports of ISIS militants trying to recruit in Afghanistan and Pakistan and of the arrest of three of its agents in late January — effectively tip-toeing on al-Qaeda’s home turf.

“The Islamic State is a competitor in leading the global jihad and it is currently winning the race,” said William McCants, a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Some groups, from Northern Africa to South-east Asia, have since rallied behind the winning horse.

For instance, in September, an armed group calling itself the Caliphate Soldiers in Algeria, previously affiliated with al-Qaeda’s North African branch, split from al-Qaeda’s core command and swore loyalty to ISIS, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors terrorist activity online.

In October, senior members of the Pakistani Taliban vowed allegiance to the Islamic State. While the six men didn’t speak for the Pakistani Taliban, the announcement further underscores divisions among militant Islamist groups as ISIS rises.

In all, 18 organizations expressed support and/or allegiance to ISIS, according to an analysis provided by al-Qaeda expert Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, deputy director of the Geneva Center for Security Policy and adjunct professor at the Graduate Institute in Geneva.

Beyond the Arab world, another organization has had a complicated relationship with al-Qaeda and ISIS: Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad, better known as Boko Haram. The group is behind a deadly suicide attack on a United Nations building in Abuja in 2011, the killing of thousands of people, including hundreds of students, and the kidnapping of at least 800 women and children in the past year alone.

While there is evidence that Boko Haram received training and support from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Nigerian group is increasingly aligning itself with ISIS. Drawn by its numerous successes, Boko Haram has adopted the ISIS flag in videos and started to mirror ISIS’ language in statements, said Amy Pate, the research director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

“Boko Haram is going after status,” Pate said. “As ISIS remains the hot brand within the Islamic jihadi movement, I wouldn’t be surprised if Boko Haram continued to use supportive rhetoric and align itself more and more with ISIS as opposed to al-Qaeda.”

A month after ISIS declared its caliphate, Boko Haram also appeared to mirror the group’s land-grabbing tactics in Northern Nigeria, said Jacob Zenn, an African affairs analyst for the D.C.-based Jamestown Foundation.

Now, Boko Haram controls an area just over 30,000 square kilometers of territory, about the size of West Virginia.

But it’s premature to speak of a formal link between ISIS and Boko Haram.

“We see a clear copying,” said Zenn. “The big question remains as whether this is messaging or signaling or whether there are intermediaries between the two groups.”

Yet, despite ISIS’ growing appeal, the major branches of al-Qaeda in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa have remained in the ranks.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is considered the most dangerous affiliate and has the closest relationship with the original al-Qaeda.

The two have overlapping hierarchies: AQAP’s leader, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was recently appointed to serve as al-Qaeda’s general manager, an important position that effectively makes him No.2 of the organization.

Al-Wuhayshi and al-Qaeda’s current head Ayman al-Zawahiri go way back. Al-Wuhayshi was Osama bin Laden’s personal aide in Afghanistan from the late 1990s until after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, at a time al-Zawahiri was also part of bin Laden’s inner circle.

In the rift between ISIS and al-Qaeda, AQAP has sided with the latter, arguing in online videos that al-Baghdadi’s declaration of an Islamic caliphate was illegitimate.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, another of al-Qaeda’s main affiliates, has for its part refrained from recognizing ISIS as legitimate. The group’s leadership, based in desert areas of Algeria, is also part of the network that trained in Afghanistan.

Blood kins
Despite clear antagonisms when it comes to strategy, al-Qaeda and ISIS can be thought of as ideological siblings.

“The disagreement between the two is over what the group should be doing to bring about the caliphate: the tactics and strategies,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Zimmerman said. “ISIS and al-Qaeda both want global jihad, but the way they go about it is very different.”

While al-Qaeda’s strategy under Osama bin Laden focused on preaching its form of Islam and toppling regimes aligned with the West before trying to establish a caliphate, ISIS believes in simultaneously establishing a state — a strategy first championed by al-Qaeda in Iraq’s deceased ideologue, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said Zimmerman.

It is those competing visions that may separate the two in the long run.

What has been ISIS’ success — its ability to conquer and control territory — could be the source of its demise as the group will have to defend its territorial conquests, explained al-Qaeda expert Mohamedou.

“ISIS wants to be a global entity, but it’s very much locally grounded,” Mohamedou explained. “The territory they hold is their strength because they extract resources, but territory is where you can be found and where you can be targeted — that is strategically a more difficult position to hold.”

TIME Super Bowl

How Science Could Determine Who Wins the Super Bowl

A football science expert on how coaches can minimize randomness and take risks

Consider the fumble. Unlike a basketball, soccer ball or baseball, a football will never fall the same way twice. Its cone shape causes it to bounce in random directions, and every time the ball is fumbled, players must dive on top of where they think it might be going in an attempt to recover it. It’s the most exciting part of the game—and, it turns out, perhaps the most important.

The reason we call a football a pigskin is because the balls were originally made from a pig’s bladder. Those balls were about the same size as today’s but were not as pointy on the ends. The balls only began to take their modern shape—what’s known as a prolate spheroid—after the forward pass was introduced, because it’s easier to throw a pointier ball, even though’s harder to predict what will happen to it when it hits the ground.

“These guys are gladiators, the best specimen of humans that we have, but when it comes to the ball being dropped, they’re reduced to kindergartners because they just throw themselves on top of it. That’s the best you can do in terms of recovering this ball,” says Ainissa Ramirez, and scientist and author of the book Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game.

MORE How Digital Footballs Could Have Saved Us From Deflategate

It’s a problem for coaches in a game where so much of the play is precise. “Randomness, which is part of this bigger field called chaos theory, is sort of one of the last ways coaches have to beat another team,” says Ramirez. “We studied two different teams that looked pretty much the same on paper, but they had different performances when it came to recovering fumbles. One team did better than the other, and its performance that year was better than the other.”

This attempt to control randomness has become particularly important during the Deflategate debate leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. Since 2000, teams that have won the turnover scramble won 79% of their games. Warren Sharp at Slate argues that statistics suggest the Patriots—who allegedly used under-inflated balls in the AFC Championship game that clinched their trip to the Super Bowl—have been trying to eliminate fumbles and therefore win more games by deflating balls. He points out that the Patriots have been nearly fumble-free since 2006 and probably not because of any new carrying strategy—players who left New England had drastically worse individual fumble rates after their departure.

Without cheating, there’s no real skill that goes into recovering the ball. It depends on luck. So what else can coaches do to win games? One suggestion might be combatting their biological instincts.

Why, for example, don’t coaches go for it on a fourth down? It’s a question Ramirez gets a lot, and the the answer, she says, actually has to do with monkeys.

She describes one experiment in which scientists taught monkeys how to exchange money for grapes. The monkeys interacted with two people: A generous person and a stingy person. The generous person would show the monkeys one grape; the monkeys would give them money; and the generous person would give them two grapes. The stingy person would show the monkeys three grapes; the monkeys would give them money; and the stingy person would give them two grapes. “In both cases, the monkey got two grapes, but the monkey didn’t like the stingy person at all,” says Ramirez. “They actually quantified this: The monkeys hated the stingy person by 2.5 times.”

MORE The Simple Way to Make Football Safer

Humans have the same instinct: Our dislike of risk is 2.5 times greater than our appreciation of a benefit. “So coaches don’t want to go for it on the fourth down because their sensitivity to risk is higher than the benefits of actually going for it,” says Ramirez.

Whatever coach can find (legal) ways to recover fumbles and teach himself to bet against his instincts during the Super Bowl will likely win.

 

TIME Super Bowl

Watch a Scientist Put ‘Deflategate’ Under the Microscope

The science behind the New England Patriots scandal

The New England Patriots have been under fire amid allegations that 11 of the 12 balls they used in their AFC Championship Game win were inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirements. While the league has yet to rule on whether the Patriots cheated their way to the Super Bowl—both coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady denied any wrongdoing Thursday—science can give us some answers.

Ainissa Ramirez, scientist and co-author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, breaks down whether the cold weather could account for the footballs deflating about two pounds each, how players might take advantage of a deflated ball, and what players have done to manipulate balls in the past.

TIME People

Watch the Highs and Lows of 2014 in 165 Seconds

What a year you were, 2014 - here's some of the highlights

2014 was a year of bearing witness. From grainy footage of police confrontations in the U.S. to acts of senseless violence abroad, this year we saw, we shared and ultimately – we connected.

We watched borders being redrawn in Eastern Europe, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the spread of a microscopic, yet formidable, enemy: the Ebola virus. Some led thousands into protest; some led countries into battle, others began to heal rifts that began half a century ago.

Whether it was tragedy, transition or triumph, here’s a look at the most significant actions that helped shape 2014.

TIME Crime

Watch: Protests Erupt In New York City After No Chokehold Indictment

Demonstrators took over highways, squares and streets in waves of outrage

Protesters expressed outrage on the streets of New York City Wednesday night after a grand jury decided not to indict a police officer over the controversial death of Staten Island man Eric Garner in July.

In the Tompkinsville neighborhood of Staten Island, in Times Square and in Union Square, crowds chanted “I can’t breathe” — the same words Garner uttered as he was wrestled to the ground by officer Daniel Pantaleo what appeared to be a banned chokehold.

The demonstrations come just after a week a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri decided not to indict a white police officer in another racially charged killing of a black man. The decision in that case ignited waves of violence in Ferguson, with businesses burned and looted.

As of Wednesday evening, about 30 protesters were arrested in New York City, with more arrests likely to come, according to a statement to CNN by New York police chief William Bratton.

TIME Media

Watch Dick Cavett Revisit the Office Where He Got His Start

The television legend drops by his old stomping grounds

The story of how Dick Cavett got his start isn’t a secret: as recounted in the 1971 TIME cover story about the star, he was working at this magazine as a copy boy — a now-obsolete gofer gig — when he wrote a few jokes meant for Jack Paar, brought them across the street to bring to the Tonight Show host, had them read on the show and eventually got hired as a writer. And the TIME-comedy links didn’t stop there. As Cavett tells it in his new book, Brief Encounters, he also used his access to the magazine’s files to track down entertainment icon Stan Laurel.

Much of Brief Encounters is devoted to Cavett’s observations about how the world has changed — so, on the occasion of his book’s release, Cavett came back to visit the place where he got his start. And, he discovered, even when it comes to office space, time refuses to stand still.

Read the Dick Cavett cover story, here in the TIME Vault: The Art of Show and Tell

TIME Mexico

How the Disappearance of 43 Students Has Tested Mexico’s President

The recent scandal has put President Enrique Peña Nieto under pressure

Mexico recently seemed to be on the fast track to becoming a safer country under the guidance of newly elected President Enrique Peña Nieto.

But the recent disappearance of 43 students in the southwestern city of Iguala – and the apparent involvement of the local mayor in their vanishing – has overshadowed Peña Nieto’s attempt to crack down on pervasive gang violence and restore order in Mexico.

“This event gave Peña Nieto a bloody nose,” said George W. Grayson, a professor at the College of William & Mary who studies drug trafficking groups. “It has demonstrated that his attempted security policy simply hasn’t functioned adequately and there are two Mexicos: the modern Mexico that the President embraces, but also the Mexico Bronco – a wild, savage Mexico.”

Mexicans are now wondering if their government is withholding information on the missing students for political reasons — and whether any politician can hope to control the “Mexico Bronco.”

TIME ebola

Does Insurance Cover Ebola Care?

Your chances of getting Ebola in the U.S. are very slim. But if you do, who's footing the bill?

Ebola care is pricey, with estimates ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 per day, according to several health care analysts and experts who spoke to TIME. Some patients will end up spending weeks at a hospital, racking up a bill of $500,000 or more. That includes everything from paying the medical staff to disposing of waste, to the cost of resources like protective gear.

“The cost of treating a patient is going to vary vastly from hospital to hospital, [starting with] length of stay,” says Andrew Fitch, a health-care pricing expert at NerdWallet. “A patient treated in Dallas was only hospitalized for two weeks while another was treated for six weeks. The cost of dialysis and IV fluids is going to add up pretty fast and that is going to be compounded by the cost of isolation.”

So who foots the bill?

If you have insurance in the U.S., your insurer is likely going to cover the costs under emergency and/or inpatient care coverage. Even though patients with Ebola often first present in the emergency room, the disease is typically intensive and can last for several weeks. Major insurance providers TIME spoke to said they would cover Ebola treatment—but bear in mind that coverage starts after a person has met his or her deductible, which can be upwards of $13,000 for some family plans and $6,000 for an individual plan, says Jeffrey Rice, CEO
of Healthcare BlueBook, a Tennessee company that calculates health-care prices for consumers.

Dr. Craig Spencer, the Ebola patient in New York City, has health insurance coverage through Doctors Without Borders. Missionaries like Dr. Kent Brantly, Dr. Richard Sacra and Nancy Writebol have insurance through their missionary groups. Nebraska Medical Center, which has treated two patients with Ebola, including Sacra and NBC freelancer Ashoka Mukpo, says all of its patients’ care has so far been covered by their insurance providers.

But what if you don’t have health insurance?

Despite numerous requests from TIME to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, the hospital did not confirmed how the uninsured Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan’s care was paid for. Analysts believe it’s unlikely that Duncan’s family will be dealt a hefty bill given how high-profile the case was and the mistakes made by the hospital.

Nebraska Medical Center says it would go about treating an uninsured patient with Ebola the same way that it would treat any patient who comes into their emergency room without insurance. They are federally obligated to treat the patient, and then the patients who cannot pay for their care can apply for financial aid and become part of the hospital’s charitable care program. “We provide millions of dollars worth of this kind of care yearly,” a Nebraska hospital spokesperson told TIME.

What if you get sent to a hospital that’s out of network?

Being treated at out-of-network hospital or by an out-of-network doctor could, in theory, result in a hefty bill. Getting out-of-network treatment covered by your insurance company is decided on a case-by-case basis based on medical necessity. While insurers have the legal right to refuse to cover this type of treatment, says Sabrina Corlette of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University, it’s highly unlikely that they would sack the patient with the bill.

If your stuff needs to be incinerated, does insurance cover that?

One of the surefire ways to get rid of any lingering virus within an Ebola patient’s home is to incinerate their belongings. But do they get reimbursed? Most likely. If a government body or medical professional recommends or requires the destruction of property as a preventative measure in the spread of the virus, the value of the destroyed items would most likely be covered at the cost to replace them, or at depreciated value under a home, business or renters policy, says Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders.

Does insurance cover experimental drugs?

No, but that’s because there’s typically no cost involved at all when a drug is still in research and development.

 

TIME ebola

How Ebola is Changing Liberia: A First Person Account From the Ground

TIME's Africa bureau chief talks about the situation in West Africa

Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, is the epicenter of an Ebola outbreak that has killed nearly 3,000 people in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

TIME’s Africa bureau chief, Aryn Baker, is on the ground in the West African city. She has reported on musicians who educate crowds on the infectious disease, the stigma dead body management teams face, the United States’ responsibility to assist Liberia, among other stories.

In the video above, Baker discusses everyday life in the densely packed seaside city of Monrovia, where the stench of chlorine and the sight of thermometers and rubber boots have become commonplace as locals attempt to stem the Ebola outbreak.

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