TIME Dating

Is That a Look of Love, or Lust? Science Has the Answer

Smiling Couple Dating
A close-up of a smiling couple is shown. Sam Edwards—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

A wife and husband research team finds different eye movements for love and lust

Scientists may have found a way to answer a question so many people have when they’re dating: “Where is this going?” All you have to do, according to researchers at the University of Chicago, is watch a potential partner’s eyes.

A new study found that eye movements could reveal whether a person was in lust or in love. Their results, collected from male and female students at the University of Geneva, showed that participants fixated more on the face when they perceived an image to evoke romantic love but that their gaze shifted to the rest of the body when an image seemed indicative of sexual desire.

“Although little is currently known about the science of love at first sight or how people fall in love, these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers,” said the study’s lead author Stephanie Cacioppo.

Cacioppo is becoming somewhat of an expert on the biology of love. Earlier this year, she conducted research finding that feelings of love and desires for sex were located in different parts of the brain. “This distinction has been interpreted to mean that desire is a relatively concrete representation of sensory experiences, while love is a more abstract representation of those experiences,” she said in February.

Cacioppo is joined in her findings by her real-life partner in love, her husband and University of Chicago researcher John Cacioppo. “By identifying eye patterns that are specific to love-related stimuli, the study may contribute to the development of a biomarker that differentiates feelings of romantic love versus sexual desire,” he said. “An eye-tracking paradigm may eventually offer a new avenue of diagnosis in clinicians’ daily practice or for routine clinical exams in psychiatry and/or couple therapy.”

We see an eye-tracking app in the making.

TIME Family

Couples With Marital Stress More Likely to Have Daughters

Parents Baby Daughter
Mother and father are shown kissing their baby daughter. Chris Ryan—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

“Girls may well be surviving stressful pregnancies that boys can’t survive”

They’re always blaming the children. After years of research showing that couples with daughters are more likely to divorce, Duke researchers Tuesday offered up an interesting explanation as to why: female embryos are better at toughing it out.

Duke economist Amar Hamoudi co-authored the study, which analyzed longitudinal data from a random sample of Americans between 1979 and 2010. Their results showed that women who reported higher levels of relationship stress, linked to a increased prevalence of later divorce, were more likely to give birth to girls.

“Girls may well be surviving stressful pregnancies that boys can’t survive,” Hamoudi said. “Thus girls are more likely than boys to be born into marriages that were already strained.”

Research has widely documented men’s higher mortality rates from birth to age 100, and recent studies have shown that the “female survival advantage” may even begin in the womb. Hamoudi suggests that science needs to take a closer look at this critical life stage.

“It’s time for population studies to shine a light on the period of pregnancy,” Hamoudi said. “The clock does not start at birth.”

TIME relationships

Who Talks More, Men Or Women? The Answer Isn’t As Obvious As You Think

A recent Northeastern study joins a long list of literature on the topic

A study released Tuesday sought to answer the ages-old and oft-debated question, do women really talk more than men? This most recent answer seems to be: well, it depends.

Northeastern University Professor David Lazer and his team studied 133 adult subjects in either professional or relaxed settings and gave them all “sociometers,” a device about the size of a smart phone that measures social interactions.

Their results found that the gender who spoke more very much depended on the setting. Women were slightly more likely to engage in casual conversation during a lunch hour but much more likely to engage in long conversations during an academic collaboration. However, men were more likely to dominate conversation when placed in a professional group of six or more people.

“So it’s a very par­tic­ular sce­nario that leads to more interactions,” Lazer said. “The real story here is there’s an inter­play between the set­ting and gender which cre­ated this difference.”

While Lazer might have been the first researcher to use sociometers in such a study, the question of which gender talks more has been asked many times before. A number of self-help books have cited this statistic: women utter an average of 20,000 words a day while men speak an average of only 7,000. A researcher from the University of Pennsylvania who tried to track this statistic’s origin found that it may have come from a 1993 marriage counselor’s pamphlet. The pamphlet’s numbers were, surprisingly, unsourced.

In the world of actual science, one 2007 study found that women and men use roughly the same number of words a day: 16,215 words for women compared to men’s 15,669. And while one 2004 study found that girls spoke a negligibly small amount more than boys, another from the same year found that boys spoke up nine times more in the classroom.

Above all, Lazer’s study proves that the debate on the subject roils on. However, for those who still believe women to be the more talkative sex, this old Chinese proverb may offer insight: “The tongue is the sword of a woman, and she never lets it become rusty.”

TIME beauty

Other Women Don’t Like Your Sexy Profile Picture

"Sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive"

You might want to think twice before making that bikini shot your profile picture—you could be inviting other women’s scorn. A study released Monday by Oregon State University found that young women judged peers with “sexy social media photos” to be less attractive, less likable and incompetent.

“There is so much pressure on teen girls and young women to portray themselves as sexy, but sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive,” said psychology researcher Elizabeth Daniels.

Daniels and her team created a fake Facebook profile for 20-year-old “Amanda Johnson,” who likes Lady Gaga, The Notebook, and Twilight (don’t we all?). More than a hundred young women between the ages of 13 and 25 were randomly assigned to view Amanda’s profile with either a “non-sexy” picture (Amanda in jeans, a t-shirt and a scarf) or a “sexy” picture (Amanda in “a low-cut red dress with a slit up one leg to mid-thigh and a visible garter belt”). They were then asked to rate Amanda’s attractiveness, likability and competence on a scale from 1 to 7.

The results are depressing. “Sexy” Amanda scored lower in all fields. The largest disparity between the two profiles occurred in her supposed competence, meaning that the sexy picture particularly hindered other women’s perception of her abilities.

However, Daniels also pointed out the negative side effects of having a wholesome photo, such as missing out “on social rewards, including attention from boys and men.” (And that’s really a woman’s main motivator for everything, right?)

But, don’t worry, ladies: Daniels and her team have some keen suggestions on how to avoid others’ baseless assumptions. “Daniels’ advice for girls and young women is to select social media photos that showcase their identity rather than her appearance, such as one from a trip or one that highlights participation in a sport or hobby,” OSU writes.

An important lesson: When other people judge you (and your social media presence) unfairly, it’s up to you to change. Thanks, science.

TIME Race

Study: Little Progress for African-American Men on Racial Equality Since 1970

Rates of incarceration and unemployment remain high

In recent years, the U.S. has celebrated the 50th anniversaries of the March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act and a number of other landmark accomplishments considered pivotal in making the U.S. a better place for African Americans.

But despite a deep reverence for those accomplishments, a new study suggests that African-American men today face such high levels of unemployment and incarceration that they are in little better position when compared with white men than a half-century ago.

The working paper, by University of Chicago researchers Derek Neal and Armin Rick, is based on preliminary findings and has not yet been peer-reviewed.

“The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act,” the study reads.

The study uses census data to show that more than 10% of black men in their 30s will be incarcerated at some point during a calendar year. This number was around 2% for white males of the same age group.

The study attributes the corrosive impact of incarceration on the African-American community, at least in part, to the institution of more punitive criminal-justice policies.

African-American men also appear to face a more difficult employment situation. More than a third of African-American men between the ages of 25 and 49 lacked employment in 2010.

“The Great Recession period of 2008–2010 was quite bleak for black men,” the study reads. “Recent levels of labor market inequality between black and white prime-age men are likely not materially different than those observed in 1970.”

[FiveThirtyEight]

TIME Internet

This Campaign Will Help You Quit Facebook for 99 Days

Social Networking Sites May Be Monitored By Security Services
Display of browser at Facebook.com (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) Dan Kitwood—Getty Images

This will teach Facebook to mess with emotions

Can’t go 10 minutes without checking Facebook? How would you feel about giving it up for 99 days? This Dutch non-profit wants you to do just that.

“99 Days of Freedom,” a non-profit initiative from Dutch creative agency Just, wants participants to abstain from the social network for more than three months and participate in “happiness surveys” to see if their mood improves as a result.

Just’s Art Director, Merijn Straathof, explained that the project came from brainstorming after news of Facebook’s controversial mood experiments went viral. “As we discussed it internally, we noted an interesting tendency: To a person, everyone had at least a ‘complicated’ relationship with Facebook,” Straathof said. “Then someone joked, ‘I guess that the real question is, ‘How do you feel when you don’t use Facebook?’ There was group laughter, followed by, ‘Wait a second. That’s a really good question!’”

Given that Facebook’s 1.2 billion users spend an average of 17 minutes on the site a day, Just estimates that 99 Days’ participants will save 28 hours of wasted time over three months. The non-profit’s directors suggest using that time to volunteer, learn a new skill or post to the group’s message board about what they’re doing with their Facebook-free time.

And while 99 days without Facebook may seem like an eternity to some, Straathof and his team do not mean for the experiment to be permanent. The group does not even ask participants to delete their profiles but rather post a “time-off” profile picture for the duration of the Facebook fast.

“Facebook is an incredible platform, we’re all fiercely loyal users and we believe that there’s a lot to love about the service,” Straathof said. “But we also feel that there are obvious emotional benefits to moderation.”

TIME career

That Lousy Summer Job Can Help Kids Get Ahead

An employee prepares hamburgers at a MacDonalds restaurant.
An employee prepares hamburgers at a MacDonalds restaurant. AFP/Getty Images

Students who worked up to 33 hours per school week or 43 hours in the summer benefitted in their future careers

Flipping burgers at a fast-food joint might offer teenagers more than just some extra cash. A new study reveals that teenagers who work after-school or summer jobs reap career benefits down the road by establishing practical skills in the real world.

The study, which was conducted by the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, used data from the Statistics Canada Youth in Transition Survey. Researchers followed 246,661 15-year-old Canadians for a 10-year period, until they turned 25. Students who worked up to 33 hours per school week or 43 hours in the summer had more success finding jobs and earning higher wages. Marc-David L. Seidel, who co-authored the study , explained that working adolescents benefit from the early introduction to the workplace, boasting higher earnings and refining their networking skills.

Yet, school-year and summer jobs can be controversial—facing off against protective parents and the coveted internship. “Adolescent labour has been stigmatized as exploitative with many parents opting to put their kids in summer camp rather than summer jobs,” said Professor Seidel. Other parents feel that their children are more suited to summer camps or educational enrichment programs.

Internships are not an option for everyone, as interns are often unpaid. “Lucrative and influential professions — politics, media and entertainment, to name a few — now virtually require a period of unpaid work,” said author Ross Perlin, of Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave Perlin in an article for the New York Times, “effectively barring young people from less privileged backgrounds.”

Now, choosing to get a summer job over the unpaid internship is not a sacrifice, but perhaps a better plan for the future.

 

 

TIME Family

Children of Same-Sex Parents Are Healthier: Study

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Getty Images

Children of same-sex parents have above average health and well-being, research by the University of Melbourne shows.

The research was based on data from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, which involved input from 315 same-sex parents and a total of 500 children. Of these participating families, 80 percent had female parents while 18 percent had male partners.

“It appears that same-sex parent families get along well and this has a positive impact on health,” said Dr Simon Crouch from the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, Centre for Health Equity at the University of Melbourne.

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME technology

New Study Says Playing a Terrorist in Video Games Might Make You More Morally Sensitive

Sony Holds News Conference Ahead Of Annual E3 Gaming Conference
Men fight to the death in the violent PlayStation 3 game, The Last of Us David McNew—Getty Images

Latest research fuels the debate on the impact of violent video games

Can playing a terrorist in violent video games make you an all-around better person? As counterintuitive as it may sound, truly “heinous” behavior in a virtual environment might make players more morally sensitive, according to a new study to be published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.

“This may, as it does in real life, provoke players to engage in voluntary behavior that benefits others,” co-author Matthew Grizzard said in a release.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo had 185 participants randomly play two different video game scenarios — either as a terrorist or as a UN peacekeeper. After playing the games, those who played as terrorists were asked to recall what “real-life acts” induced guilt, and the UN soldiers were asked to recall which acts didn’t make them feel guilty. They then completed a 30-item moral foundations questionnaire.

“An American who played a violent game ‘as a terrorist’ would likely consider his avatar’s unjust and violent behavior — violations of the fairness/reciprocity and harm/care domains — to be more immoral than when he or she performed the same acts in the role of a ‘UN peacekeeper,’” Grizzard said. According to the University of Buffalo, “The study found significant positive correlations between video-game guilt and the moral foundations violated during game play.”

This study has some limitations, however. Researchers’ associating guilt with terrorist actions (and lack of guilt with the “heroes”), for example, might have shaded the lens with which they viewed their actions during the game.

It is the latest in a series of studies that attempt to assess the impact that violent media has on its consumers. Ever since two high school students rampaged through the halls of Columbine High School, debates have raged about whether violent video games, like those played by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, lead to violent behavior. An August 2013 study argues that violent video games do not cause high risk youths to bully, while a March 2014 study argues that over time, violent video games make children more aggressive. Inconsistent finding even inspired Obama to put a call out for more comprehensive literature on the subject.

TIME Social Networking

The Author of a Controversial Facebook Study Says He’s ‘Sorry’

But he also defends his research into the transmission of emotional states

One of the authors of a controversial Facebook study into emotional states published this month has apologized for anxiety caused.

Facebook tweaked the News Feeds of nearly 700,000 users by displaying disproportionately positive or negative statuses for one week in January 2012, to help its researchers understand how emotional states are transmitted on social media. More than 3 million posts were analyzed in the experiment.

“My co-authors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety,” wrote Adam Kramer, one of the three authors, in a Facebook post.

But Kramer also defended the social network’s study. “We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out,” he wrote.

Controversy swirled around the social media giant’s ethics because users were not explicitly asked or notified that they were part of the experiment. Instead, Facebook relied on its terms of service that all users agree to when signing up and allows them to conduct studies like this.

You can read the full post by Kramer here:

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