Mind

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How ‘quiet kindness’ can bolster well-being during coronavirus pandemic

<p>I’ve learned a lot from the <a href="https://theconversation.com/kindness-what-ive-learned-from-3-000-children-and-adolescents-113705">thousands of public school students I’ve asked about kindness</a>.</p> <p>As a researcher at the University of British Columbia, a great deal of my time is spent asking children, adolescents and even university students what it means to be kind and how they demonstrate kindness. Children can be kind in predictable or anticipated ways (for instance, holding a door open for a stranger) but I’ve also learned that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573519885802">they’re kinder than we might think</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573517732202">their kindness takes many forms</a>.</p> <p>As our society navigates this coronavirus pandemic and we hear with <a href="https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/covid-19-ontario-reports-78-new-cases-the-most-in-one-day-so-far">increasing emphasis how important it is to stay home</a>, I reflect on what might be gained by remembering <a href="https://doi.org/10.18357/jcs.v43i2.18576">what I came to define as “quiet kindness.”</a></p> <p>Such acts of kindness don’t draw attention to the initiator or aren’t announced to the recipient, who may very well remain unaware of the kindness performed on their behalf. For children, an act of quiet kindness does not garner the attention of any adults who might typically encourage or reinforce kindness.</p> <p><strong>Self-regulation</strong></p> <p>Quietly kind acts contrast what psychology researchers Gustavo Carlo and Brandy Randall termed “<a href="https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/psychfacpub/70/">public pro-social behaviours</a>,” which are conducted in front of an audience to gain approval.</p> <p>I arrived at a definition of quiet kindness after examining younger children’s (kindergarten to Grade 3) drawings and explanations of how they were kind, and older students’ (grades 4 to 7) written descriptions. They shared acts of kindness like leaving money in the vending machine for the next patron, not laughing at a joke or insult if it’ll cause someone around them to suffer — or as one middle school student described — not asking “for so much stuff.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/322561/original/file-20200324-155666-16gi92v.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">‘Not ask for so much stuff’ is one child’s act of kindness.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(John-Tyler Binfet)</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Some of these quiet acts reflect <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0098628311430172">self-regulation, a hot-topic concept among educators</a>. Children’s self-regulation relates to children and adolescents taking responsibility for their language and actions by self-governing.</p> <p>For example, one student described an act of kindness within the context of his family: to self-restrain and enact less aggression toward his brother.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/322560/original/file-20200324-155702-65804z.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Don’t punch little brother (Charlie).</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(John-Tyler Binfet)</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>These acts of quiet kindness require what <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0786-1">psychologists call “perspective-taking”</a> — the ability to gain perspective by putting oneself in the shoes of the other. It has been argued that perspective-taking <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/00221325.2019.1632785">is a key prerequisite to being kind</a>.</p> <p>Certainly, we’re best able to tailor our acts of kindness to the needs of those around us when we see from others’ points of view. In doing so, we can reflect upon how our kindness might support those around us.</p> <p><strong>Done on the downlow</strong></p> <p>During this time of coronavirus social distancing and quarantine, we’ve ample time to reflect on the needs of others. I hear the call: “But what about MY needs?!” as I think about <a href="https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/sudbury-costco-runs-out-of-toilet-paper-1.4848454">people standing in line for toilet paper at Costco</a>.</p> <p>One antidote to maintaining our well-being during this unprecedented time might be to reflect on others’ needs and devise ways to be quietly kind? We know that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2018.02.014">being kind to others is a guaranteed way to bolster our well-being</a>.</p> <p>We feel better when we’re kind to others and the added bonus is that we make others feel better too.</p> <p>It could be as simple as the student’s example below who said “not leaving his stuff laying on the floor” was an act of kindness for his mom and himself. I hope these examples might inspire us to consider a variety of ways to be quietly kind. Maybe this means sharing space more mindfully right now with those we live with or being more diligent with social distancing.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/322563/original/file-20200324-155683-wmceeu.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">‘Not leave my stuff laying on the floor in my room,’ is one student’s act of kindness for his mom and himself.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(John-Tyler Binfet)</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Kindness need not be delivered like a Broadway production, with ample fanfare and attention drawn to the initiator. It can be done on the down-low, respond to the needs of those around us and be quietly delivered.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/134579/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-tyler-binfet-703205">John-Tyler Binfet</a>, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-british-columbia-946">University of British Columbia</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/quiet-kindness-can-bolster-well-being-during-coronavirus-pandemic-134579">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How older people can cope with loneliness during the coronavirus crisis

<p>Social distancing is rapidly becoming a way of life as Australia fights the outbreak of COVID-19.</p> <p>This is especially important when it comes to protecting the older and disabled members of our community living in residential aged care. In these facilities, communal living, chronic disease and advanced age combine to make the threat posed by COVID-19 far greater.</p> <p>Last week, the federal government issued <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/senator-the-hon-richard-colbeck/media/covid-19-prevention-guidelines-issued-to-aged-care-providers">guidelines</a> to further protect older people from COVID-19. Visitors are advised to stay away when they are unwell and ensure they follow advice on proper hygiene, but the new restrictions go even further:</p> <ul> <li> <p>no more than two visitors per resident per day</p> </li> <li> <p>no children under 16</p> </li> <li> <p>no “non-essential” visitors, including hairdressers, allied health professionals, musicians and volunteers</p> </li> <li> <p>visits should take place in residents’ rooms or outdoors</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>Impact of loneliness and isolation</strong></p> <p>The latest <a href="https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/aged-care-quality-standards">aged care quality standards</a> set by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission require that older people in residential aged care receive adequate social engagement. Reduced socialisation due to COVID-19 may have a deleterious effect on the health and well-being of these residents.</p> <p>Older people in residential aged care are already <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20881107">twice as likely to experience loneliness</a> than those living in the outside community.</p> <p>Many residents of aged care facilities also feel <a href="http://www.sciepub.com/AJNR/abstract/10417">socially isolated</a>, even though they live in communal settings. Some research has shown that many <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2247412/">residents in aged care facilities have few visitors</a>, although we need more research to understand the true levels of visiting.</p> <p><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10935-012-0271-2">Loneliness is also associated</a> with negative physical and mental health outcomes, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, disability, cognitive decline, depression and early mortality.</p> <p>We know that up to half of residents in residential aged care facilities have significant <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/7ad35fb2-bc14-4692-96b1-c15d73072319/16256.pdf.aspx?inline=true">symptoms of depression</a> and two-thirds have cognitive impairment.</p> <p>There is growing evidence that older people who are lonely or isolated may also be at a higher risk of exacerbating the onset and trajectory of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S156816371500046X">dementia and Alzheimer’s disease</a>.</p> <p>Disruptions to <a href="https://www.verywellhealth.com/using-routines-in-dementia-97625">familiar routines and rituals</a> stemming from reduced activities and decreased access to communal areas may also have a negative effect, particularly for people with dementia. This, too, can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18679028">reduce the quality of their lives</a>.</p> <p><strong>Maintaining connections during coronavirus</strong></p> <p>So, what can we do to improve the mental health of residents during this outbreak when visitor access will be curtailed even further?</p> <p>For starters, activities such as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19697299">reminiscence therapy</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5500733/">music therapy</a> have been shown to help loneliness and depression.</p> <p>Intergenerational programmes involving visits from secondary school students, such as <a href="https://www.cmc.vic.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/iGEN-Brochure-A4-pages-160719-e-1.pdf">iGEN</a>, can also reduce isolation and loneliness and support broader community connections. These will need to be modified during the coronavirus outbreak, due to the restrictions on non-essential visitors.</p> <p>Similarly, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28544504">research</a> shows that <a href="https://www.agedcareguide.com.au/talking-aged-care/be-a-friend-project-aims-to-reduce-loneliness-in-aged-care-residents">befriending</a> – which involves volunteers visiting an older person weekly to chat about topics of mutual interest – can also help residents cope with depression, anxiety and loneliness.</p> <p>Under the new COVID-19 guidelines, we also need to explore creative ways to maintain engagement in such programs.</p> <p>Technology such as <a href="https://www.ruralhealth.org.au/partyline/article/technology-helping-elders-aged-care-stay-meaningfully-connected">Zoom, Skype and FaceTime</a>, for instance, can support older people in residential aged care to meaningfully connect with family and friends.</p> <p>The use of <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51423436_Use_of_videophones_for_distant_caregiving_-_An_enriching_experience_for_families_and_residents_in_long-term_care">smartphones</a> in aged care settings has already been associated with increased social support for both residents and their families, helping them to feel closer and providing reassurance.</p> <p>When technology isn’t available, gestures as simple as a regular telephone chat can provide a significant boost to a resident’s well-being.</p> <p>Other strategies include sending aged care residents individually curated music playlists, letters, photos and postcards using large font to help keep their spirits up. Virtual karaoke is another creative solution. <a href="https://www.dementiaallianceinternational.org/managing-the-coronavirus/">Dementia Alliance International</a> has created a suite of online resources for older people, as well, including virtual tours of museums and galleries.</p> <p>The challenge here, however, is an an urgent need to <a href="https://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy2.acu.edu.au/doi/full/10.1080/10376178.2017.1411203">increase the uptake of technology</a> within the aged care sector. There are some federal programs, such as “<a href="https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/">Be Connected</a>”, which trains older adults to use technology, but more resources are needed.</p> <p><strong>More assistance to aged care staff</strong></p> <p>Much of the gap in social support due to visitor restrictions will need to be taken up by nurses and personal care workers.</p> <p>The federal government has announced <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/senator-the-hon-richard-colbeck/media/funding-boost-for-aged-care-set-to-strengthen-defence-against-covid-19">additional funding</a> to boost staff numbers and training during the COVID-19 crisis, which will be essential to support an already overstretched workforce.</p> <p>Workforce consistency is vital to supporting residents’ health and wellbeing. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29396884">Our research</a> shows that residents greatly value the ability to develop familiarity, trust and rapport with frontline staff.</p> <p>Aged care providers also need to support their staff through the crisis. Some are boosting morale with innovative programs such as Baptist Care’s <a href="http://SupportTheStaff@baptistcare.org.au">“Support The Staff” email campaign</a>, which enables family members of residents and the general public to send uplifting messages to staff.</p> <p><strong>Balancing the need for protection and connection</strong></p> <p>It is also vitally important to respect <a href="https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/rights-and-responsibilities%20">residents’ rights</a> during this challenging time, and offer them as much control as possible over choices.</p> <p>While it is for the collective good to restrict face-to-face visits, alternatives need to be offered. Government policies and operators will need to navigate the delicate balance between protection of older people from COVID-19 and their rights to social engagement.</p> <p>There is a possible upside to the current crisis. The sense of urgency created by our attempts to stave off COVID-19 may lead to innovative solutions to address loneliness in aged care settings – and longer-lasting improvements in the mental health of residents.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/133771/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bridget-laging-160367">Bridget Laging</a>, Senior Research Fellow, Aged Care PhD, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-catholic-university-747">Australian Catholic University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/colleen-doyle-3603">Colleen Doyle</a>, Senior Principal Research Fellow, National Ageing Research Institute</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/virtual-karaoke-and-museum-tours-how-older-people-can-cope-with-loneliness-during-the-coronavirus-crisis-133771">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How hope can keep you healthier and happier

<p>Hope can erode when we perceive threats to our way of life, and these days, plenty are out there. <a href="https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-initiatives/program-retirement-policy/projects/data-warehouse/what-future-holds/us-population-aging">As we age</a>, we may struggle with a tragic loss or chronic disease. As we watch the news, we see our <a href="https://theconversation.com/think-the-us-is-more-polarized-than-ever-you-dont-know-history-131600">political system polarized</a>, hopelessly locked in chaos. The coronavirus <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html">spreads wider daily</a>; U.S. markets signaled <a href="https://us.spindices.com/indices/equity/dow-jones-industrial-average">a lack of hope</a> with a Dow Jones free fall. Losing hope sometimes <a href="https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/03/trends-suicide">leads to suicide</a>.</p> <p>When there is no hope – when people cannot picture a desired end to their struggles – they lose the motivation to endure. As <a href="https://psychology.vcu.edu/people/faculty/worthington-jr.html">professor emeritus</a> at Virginia Commonwealth University, I’ve studied positive psychology, forgiveness, wellness and the science of hope for more than 40 years. <a href="http://www.evworthington-forgiveness.com/">My website</a> offers free resources and tools to help its readers live a more hopeful life.</p> <p><strong>What is hope?</strong></p> <p>First, hope is not Pollyannaish optimism – <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11031-018-9746-7">the assumption</a> that a positive outcome is inevitable. Instead, hope is a motivation to persevere toward a goal or end state, even if we’re skeptical that a positive outcome is likely. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Psychology-Hope-You-Here-There/dp/0743254449">Psychologists tell us</a> hope involves activity, a can-do attitude and a belief that we have a pathway to our desired outcome. Hope is the willpower to change and the way-power to bring about that change.</p> <p>With teens and with young or middle-aged adults, hope is a bit easier. But for older adults, it’s a bit harder. Aging often means running up against obstacles that appear unyielding – like recurring health or financial or family issues that just don’t seem to go away. Hope for older adults has to be “sticky,” persevering, a “<a href="http://hopecouples.com/">mature hope</a>.”</p> <p><strong>How to build hope</strong></p> <p>Now the good news: <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S259011332030002X?via%3Dihub">this study</a>, from Harvard’s “<a href="https://hfh.fas.harvard.edu/">Human Flourishing Program</a>,” recently published. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S259011332030002X?via%3Dihub">Researchers examined</a> the impact of hope on nearly 13,000 people with an average age of 66. They found those with more hope throughout their lives had better physical health, better health behaviors, better social support and a longer life. Hope also led to fewer chronic health problems, less depression, less anxiety and a lower risk of cancer.</p> <p>So if maintaining hope in the long run is so good for us, how do we increase it? Or build hope if it’s MIA? Here are my four suggestions:</p> <p>Attend a motivational speech – or watch, read or listen to one online, through YouTube, a blog or podcast. That increases hope, although usually the fix is short-lived. How can you build longer-term hope?</p> <p>Engage with a religious or spiritual community. This has worked for millennia. Amidst a community of like believers, people have drawn strength, found peace and experienced the elevation of the human spirit, just by knowing there is something or someone much larger than them.</p> <p>Forgive. Participating in a <a href="http://www.evworthington-forgiveness.com/run-groups">forgiveness group</a>, or completing a forgiveness <a href="https://evworthington.squarespace.com/diy-workbooks">do-it-yourself workbook</a>, builds hope, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259454682_Efficacy_of_Psychotherapeutic_Interventions_to_Promote_Forgiveness_A_Meta-Analysis">say scientists</a>. It also reduces depression and anxiety, and increases (perhaps this is obvious) your capacity to forgive. That’s true even with long-held grudges. I’ve personally found that successfully forgiving someone provides a sense of both the willpower and way-power to change.</p> <p>Choose a “hero of hope.” Some have changed history: Nelson Mandela endured 27 years of imprisonment yet persevered to build a new nation. Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought hope to millions for a decade during the Great Depression. <a href="https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan%27s_Fourth_State_of_the_Union_Speech">Ronald Reagan</a> brought hope to a world that seemed forever mired in the Cold War. From his fourth State of the Union address: “Tonight, I’ve spoken of great plans and great dreams. They’re dreams we can make come true. Two hundred years of American history should have taught us that nothing is impossible.”</p> <p><strong>Hope gets you unstuck</strong></p> <p>Hope changes systems that seem stuck. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/24/science/katherine-johnson-dead.html">Katherine Johnson</a>, the black mathematician whose critical role in the early days of NASA and the space race was featured in the movie “Hidden Figures,” recently died at age 101. The movie (and the book on which it was based) brought to light her persistence against a system that seemed forever stuck. Bryan Stevenson, who directs the <a href="https://justmercy.eji.org/">Equal Justice Initiative</a>, and the subject of the movie “Just Mercy,” has successfully fought to help those wrongly convicted or incompetently defended to get off death row.</p> <p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Just-Mercy-Story-Justice-Redemption/dp/081298496X/ref=sr_1_2?crid=36NEVUQYANOX0&amp;keywords=just+mercy+bryan+stevenson&amp;qid=1582732721&amp;sprefix=Just+Mercy%2Caps%2C149&amp;sr=8-2">Stevenson laments</a> that he could not help everyone who needed it; he concluded that he lived in a broken system, and that, in fact, he too was a broken man. Yet he constantly reminded himself of what he had told everyone he tried to help: “Each of us,” he said, “is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” Hope changes all of us. By regaining his hope, Bryan Stevenson’s example inspires us.</p> <p>Regardless of how hard we try, we cannot eliminate threats to hope. Bad stuff happens. But there are the endpoints of persistent hope: We become healthier and our relationships are happier. We can bring about that hope by buoying our willpower, bolstering our persistence, finding pathways to our goals and dreams, and looking for heroes of hope. And just perhaps, one day, we too can be such a hero.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/132507/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/everett-worthington-977182">Everett Worthington</a>, Emeritus Commonwealth Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/virginia-commonwealth-university-2978">Virginia Commonwealth University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-hope-can-keep-you-healthier-and-happier-132507">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How to cope with coronavirus anxiety

<p>One of our patients was recently talking about her anxiety around the coronavirus epidemic. This woman’s stress was understandable. She had survived a serious infection with swine flu, but only with a prolonged stay in intensive care.</p> <blockquote> <p>I guess we all walk on the edge of a cliff […] anything can happen to anyone at any time. We are never really safe. But people like me? Now we know the edge of the cliff is right there, and we can’t help looking down.</p> </blockquote> <p>While some people may be more susceptible to becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus than others, none of us are immune to the pervading sense of anxiety that has taken hold around the world.</p> <p>For Australians in particular, this crisis has come immediately after a horror summer of bushfires, which took their own toll on our collective mental health.</p> <p>But there are some things we can keep in mind, and some practical steps we can take, to keep coronavirus-related anxiety under control.</p> <p><strong>A tangible threat versus an invisible enemy</strong></p> <p>It hasn’t been an easy start to the decade. In the face of the summer’s bushfires, many of us contended with threats to our health, our homes and even our lives.</p> <p>Even those not directly affected were faced with <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/voices/culture/article/2020/01/10/eco-anxiety-climbs-fires-smoke-and-animal-deaths-trigger-fear-and-trauma">constant images</a> of charred bushland, injured wildlife, and homes burnt to the ground.</p> <p>The bushfires put a strain on our collective <a href="https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/bushfires-and-mental-health/">mental health</a>, and it’s very likely some people are still struggling.</p> <p>Natural disasters, though, are visible and tangible. There are <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/natural-disasters">things we can do</a> to avoid the threat, manage the danger or mitigate the risk. We can see the smoke, check the app, buy an air purifier, prepare our homes. And despite the vivid images of floods, fires and cyclones, we know the storm will pass.</p> <p>Epidemics are different. A novel epidemic is unknown, <a href="https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/news/coronavirus-a-timeline-of-how-the-deadly-outbreak-evolved/">evolving and a global risk</a>.</p> <p>We are faced with a variety of information (and <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-01-30/social-media-spreading-coronavirus-misinformation-youtube-tiktok/11912590">misinformation</a>) online. Guidelines <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-06/coronavirus-mixed-messaging-driving-confusion-ama-warns/12027898">contradict each other</a>, different states have different approaches, and experts disagree.</p> <p>Meanwhile, infection rates climb as <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-08/coronavirus-impact-economy-australia-banking-sector-retail/12035998?fbclid=IwAR2BEPC2Eh_RugNbbsg1rs6ejgPUgJTzm24WUITeCC8QQtBoWv8o2MHMIkA">economies fall</a>. We know we may contract the virus, and as yet we know there’s <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51665497">no vaccine</a> to prevent it.</p> <p><strong>While the bushfires united us, coronavirus seems to divide us</strong></p> <p>There’s <a href="https://time.com/5797836/coronavirus-racism-stereotypes-attacks/">an ugly side</a> to ways we can deal with the stress of an unknown enemy like the coronavirus.</p> <p>Some people blame potential carriers for their own illnesses, <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/its-catching/202002/the-coronavirus-and-the-search-scapegoats">scapegoating people</a> they see as high-risk. This is not helpful.</p> <p>We also seek to manage our anxiety by trying to prepare ourselves and our families for the possibility of isolation or quarantine.</p> <p>While this is reasonable to a degree, practices like <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51731422">stockpiling toilet paper</a> and other goods can <a href="https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/how-to-look-after-your-mental-wellbeing-in-a-crisis">feed, rather than relieve, anxiety</a>. Empty supermarket shelves can create panic, and further disadvantage people who might be living from week to week.</p> <p>Epidemics <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/mar/05/coronavirus-self-quarantine-might-not-sound-so-bad-but-loneliness-will-be-hard-for-many">isolate us from each other</a> physically too, and this will only happen more and more.</p> <p><strong>So how can we put things into perspective?</strong></p> <p>We can take heart in knowing <a href="https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/covid-19-coronavirus-infographic-datapack/?fbclid=IwAR3MvKzsx6DgsmUJ7bdR7LZ15Ys8cgxMfA5AuAIKPiR0vH3lISNbzeY9SjE">many people will develop only mild disease</a> from the coronavirus.</p> <p>There are of course <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html">vulnerable members of our community</a>: those with compromised immune systems due to illness or age. We need to protect these people as a community by creating safe spaces for them to live, work and access health care, rather than fostering panic.</p> <p>Our greatest asset lies in our own bodies. We may not understand how to best protect ourselves, but our bodies are <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-how-does-the-immune-system-work-27163">experienced managers of novel immune challenges</a>, and they will manage the risk as effectively as they can.</p> <p>Ultimately, our best chance at surviving this virus relies on <a href="https://www.gps-can.com.au/covid19-practical-information">nurturing our bodies</a>: avoiding exposure through hand-washing and isolation where appropriate, eating well, exercising, managing chronic illnesses, and getting enough sleep.</p> <p>The anxiety a pandemic generates is inevitable. At the end of the day, we all need to <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-how-to-stop-the-anxiety-spiralling-out-of-control-133166">learn to live with</a> a degree of risk we can’t avoid.</p> <p><strong>Practical strategies to keep anxiety at bay</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/coping-with-stress.pdf?sfvrsn=9845bc3a_2">World Health Organisation</a> has developed some practical tips for dealing the stress of this outbreak. Here are a few of them:</p> <ul> <li> <p>accept that it’s normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry during an outbreak</p> </li> <li> <p>find ways to talk about how you feel with others, especially if you are in quarantine</p> </li> <li> <p>remember to keep an eye out for <a href="https://childmind.org/article/talking-to-kids-about-the-coronavirus/">your children</a> during this time, and for loved ones who already have mental illness. They may need help dealing with this added anxiety</p> </li> <li> <p>if you feel overwhelmed, seek support from a health professional</p> </li> <li> <p>don’t use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions. Keep your body as healthy as possible by eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep</p> </li> <li> <p>limit worry by limiting media exposure to a few trusted sources</p> </li> <li> <p>draw on skills you have used in the past that have helped you to get through difficult times.</p> </li> </ul> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.</em></p> <p><em>Dr Wendy Burton, a GP in Brisbane, contributed to this article.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/133146/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louise-stone-454952"><em>Louise Stone</em></a><em>, General practitioner; Clinical Associate Professor, ANU Medical School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katrina-mclean-990616">Katrina McLean</a>, Assistant Professor, Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-is-stressful-here-are-some-ways-to-cope-with-the-anxiety-133146">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Can you ever be a truly independent thinker?

<p><em>‘It’s important to me that I make my own decisions, but I often wonder how much they are actually influenced by cultural and societal norms, by advertising, the media and those around me. We all feel the need to fit in, but does this prevent us from making decisions for ourselves? In short, can I ever be a truly free thinker?’</em> Richard, Yorkshire.</p> <p>There’s good news and bad news on this one. In his poem <a href="https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/51642/invictus">Invictus</a>, William Ernest Henley wrote: “It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”</p> <p>While being the lone “captain of your soul” is a reassuring idea, the truth is rather more nuanced. The reality is that we are social beings driven by a profound <a href="https://theconversation.com/would-you-stand-up-to-an-oppressive-regime-or-would-you-conform-heres-the-science-124469">need to fit in</a> – and as a consequence, we are all hugely influenced by cultural norms.</p> <p>But to get to the specifics of your question, advertising, at least, may not influence you as much as you imagine. Both advertisers and the critics of advertising like us to think that ads can make us dance any way they want, especially now everything is digital and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/05/targeted-ads-fake-news-clickbait-surveillance-capitalism-data-mining-democracy">personalised ad targeting</a> is possible in a way it never was before.</p> <p>In reality, <a href="https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/effective-advertising/book11407">there is no precise science of advertising</a>. <a href="https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/clay-christensens-milkshake-marketing">Most new products fail</a>, despite the advertising they receive. And even when sales go up, nobody is exactly sure of the role advertising played. As the marketing pioneer <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wanamaker">John Wanamaker</a> said:</p> <blockquote> <p>Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.</p> </blockquote> <p>You’d expect advertisers to exaggerate the effectiveness of advertising, and scholars of advertising have typically made more modest claims. Even these, though, may be overestimates. Recent studies have claimed that both <a href="https://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/gordon_b/files/fb_comparison.pdf">online</a> and <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3273476">offline</a>, the methods commonly used to study advertising effectiveness vastly exaggerate the power of advertising to change our beliefs and behaviour.</p> <p>This has led some to claim that not just half, but perhaps nearly all advertising money is wasted, <a href="https://thecorrespondent.com/100/the-new-dot-com-bubble-is-here-its-called-online-advertising/13228924500-22d5fd24">at least online</a>.</p> <p>There are similar results outside of commerce. One review of field experiments in political campaigning argued “the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates choices <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3042867">in general elections is zero”</a>. Zero!</p> <p>In other words, although we like to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/15/what-we-learned-about-the-media-this-election">blame the media</a> for how people vote, it is surprisingly hard to find <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3042867">solid evidence</a> of when and how people are swayed by the media. One professor of political science, Kenneth Newton, went so far as to claim <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1467-923X.12732">“It’s Not the Media, Stupid”</a>.</p> <p>But although advertising is a weak force, and although hard evidence on how the media influences specific choices is elusive, every one of us is undoubtedly influenced by the culture in which we live.</p> <p><strong>Followers of fashion</strong></p> <p>Fashions exist both for superficial things, such as buying clothes and opting for a particular hairstyle, but also for more profound behaviour like <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207262/">murder and even suicide</a>. Indeed, we all borrow so much from those we grow up around, and those around us now, that it seems impossible to put a clear line between our individual selves and the selves society forges for us.</p> <p>Two examples: I don’t have any facial tattoos, and I don’t want any. If I wanted a facial tattoo my family would think I’d gone mad. But if I was born in some cultures, where these tattoos were common and conveyed high status, such as traditional Māori culture, people would think I was unusual if I <em>didn’t</em> want facial tattoos.</p> <p>Similarly, if I had been born a Viking, I can assume that my highest ambition would have been to die in battle, axe or sword in hand. In their belief system, after all, that was <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/how-do-you-get-to-viking-valhalla/z7s747h">surest way to Valhalla</a> and a glorious afterlife. Instead, I am a liberal academic whose highest ambition is to die peacefully in bed, a long way away from any bloodshed. Promises of Valhalla have no influence over me.</p> <p>Ultimately, I’d argue that all of our desires are patterned by the culture we happen to be born in.</p> <p>But it gets worse. Even if we could somehow free ourselves from cultural expectations, other forces impinge on our thoughts. Your <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25961374">genes can affect your personality</a> and so they must also, indirectly, have a knock-on effect on your beliefs.</p> <p>Sigmund Freud, the founder of <a href="https://psychoanalysis.org.uk/our-authors-and-theorists/sigmund-freud">psychoanalysis</a>, famously talked about the influence of parents and upbringing on behaviour, and he probably wasn’t 100% wrong. Even just psychologically, how can you ever think freely, separate from the twin influences of prior experience and other people?</p> <p>From this perspective, <em>all</em> of our behaviours and our desires are profoundly influenced by outside forces. But does this mean they aren’t also our own?</p> <p>The answer to this dilemma, I think, is not to free yourself from outside influences. This is impossible. Instead, you should see yourself and your ideas as the intersection of all the forces that come to play on you.</p> <p>Some of these are shared – like our culture – and some are unique to you – your unique experience, your unique history and biology. Being a free thinker, from this perspective, means working out exactly what makes sense to you, from where you are now.</p> <p>You can’t – and shouldn’t – ignore outside influences, but the good news is that these influences are not some kind of overwhelming force. <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24232240-200-its-not-an-illusion-you-have-free-will-its-just-not-what-you-think/">All the evidence</a> is compatible with the view that each of us, choice by choice, belief by belief, can make reasonable decisions for ourselves, not unshackled from the influences of others and the past, but free to chart our own unique paths forward into the future.</p> <p>After all, the captain of a ship doesn’t sail while ignoring the wind – sometimes they go with it, sometimes against it, but they always account for it. Similarly, we think and make our choices in the context of all our circumstances, not by ignoring them.</p> <p><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tom-stafford-91781">Tom Stafford</a>, Lecturer in Psychology and Cognitive Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sheffield-1147">University of Sheffield</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/free-thought-can-you-ever-be-a-truly-independent-thinker-129033">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How a ‘growth mindset’ helps us learn

<p>One of the most influential phenomena in education over the last two decades has been that of the “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2018/jan/04/research-every-teacher-should-know-growth-mindset">growth mindset</a>”. This refers to the beliefs a student has about various capacities such as their intelligence, their ability in areas such as maths, their personality and creative ability.</p> <p>Proponents of the growth mindset believe these capacities can be developed or “grown” through learning and effort. The alternative perspective is the “fixed mindset”. This assumes these capacities are fixed and unable to be changed.</p> <p>The theory of the growth versus fixed mindset was <a href="http://155.0.32.9:8080/jspui/bitstream/123456789/55/1/Mindset_%20The%20New%20Psychology%20of%20Success.pdf">first proposed</a> in 1998 by American psychologist Carol Dweck and paediatric surgeon Claudia Mueller. It <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9686450">grew out of studies</a> they led, in which primary school children were engaged in a task, and then praised either for their existing capacities, such as intelligence, or the effort they invested in the task.</p> <p>Researchers monitored how the students felt, thought and behaved in subsequent more difficult tasks.</p> <p>The students who were praised for their effort were more likely to persist with finding a solution to the task. They were also more likely to seek feedback about how to improve. Those praised for their intelligence were less likely to persist with the more difficult tasks and to seek feedback on how their peers did on the task.</p> <p>These findings led to the inference that a fixed mindset was less conducive to learning than a growth mindset. This notion has a lot of support in cognitive and behavioural science.</p> <p><strong>What’s the evidence?</strong></p> <p>Psychologists <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Peter_Gollwitzer2/publication/312340264_Mindset_Theory/links/59e77e3baca272e940e0b309/Mindset-Theory.pdf">have been researching</a> the notion of a mindset – a set of assumptions or methods people have, and how these influence motivations or behaviour – for over a century.</p> <p>The growth mindset has its roots in Stanford University psychologist Alan Bandura’s 1970s social learning theory of a <a href="https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Self-efficacy%3A-toward-a-unifying-theory-of-change.-Bandura/953070a862df2824b46e7b1057e97badfb31b8c2">positive self-efficacy</a>. This is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in specific situations or to accomplish a task.</p> <p>The growth mindset is also a re-branding of the 1980-90s study of <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2F0022-0663.80.3.260">achievement orientation</a>. Here, people can adopt either a “mastery orientation” (with the goal of learning more) or a “performance orientation” (with the goal of showing what they know) to achieve an outcome.</p> <p>The idea of the growth mindset is consistent with theories of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2896818/">brain plasiticity</a> (the brain’s ability to change due to experience) and <a href="https://scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Basten-et-al.-2013.pdf">task-positive and task-negative</a> brain network activity (brain networks that are activated during goal-orientated tasks).</p> <p>The growth versus fixed mindset theory is supported by evidence too – both for its predictions of outcomes and its impact in interventions. Studies show students’ <a href="http://www.growthmindsetmaths.com/uploads/2/3/7/7/23776169/mindset_and_math_science_achievement_-_nov_2013.pdf">mindsets influence</a> their maths and science outcomes, their <a href="https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1111638">academic ability</a> and their <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1348/978185409X402580?casa_token=h8ioC3A2hkAAAAA%3Ac9rJPcLSWmi4NX8_U5wKBn1BKVsc4MQqbid4cQk1CMD4dEaPXC_5L1vKI2QHsn7NbUbbhwO1-8vFYlkb-Q">ability to cope</a> with exams.</p> <p>People with growth mindsets <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272735820300040">are more likely to cope emotionally</a>, while those who don’t view themselves as having the ability to learn and grow are more prone to psychological distress.</p> <p>But the theory has not received universal support. A <a href="http://bahniks.com/files/mindset.pdf">2016 study showed</a> academic achievements of university students were not associated with their growth mindset. This could, in part be due to the way it is understood.</p> <p>People can show different mindsets at different times – a growth or fixed – towards a specific subject or task. <a href="https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means">According to Dweck</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Everyone is actually a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets, and that mixture continually evolves with experience.</p> </blockquote> <p>This suggests the fixed and growth mindsets distinction <a href="https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means">lies on on a continuum</a>. It also suggests the mindset a person adopts at any one time is dynamic and depends on the context.</p> <p><strong>What about teaching a growth mindset?</strong></p> <p>The theory has been evaluated in a range of teaching programs. A <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323565554_To_What_Extent_and_Under_Which_Circumstances_Are_Growth_Mind-Sets_Important_to_Academic_Achievement_Two_Meta-Analyses">2018 analysis</a> reviewed a number of studies that explored whether interventions that enhanced students’ growth mindsets affected their academic achievements. It found teaching a growth mindset had minimal influence on student outcomes.</p> <p>But in some cases, teaching a growth mindset was effective for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds or those academically at risk.</p> <p>A <a href="https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/tsdwy">2017 study</a> found teaching a growth mindset had no effect on student outcomes. In fact, the study found students with a fixed mindset showed higher outcomes. Given the complexity of human understanding and learning processes, the negative findings are not surprising. Dweck and colleagues <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1466-y?fbclid=IwAR3eSTiOiVc3v8LARTfGwxTzlSDz4AiAFpLK-jK4VcJr57wI0eO8zyvwkEc">have noted that a school’s context</a> and culture can be responsible for whether the gains made from a growth mindset intervention are sustained.</p> <p>Studies show the <a href="https://www.scirp.org/html/8-6902186_77784.htm#ref37">mindsets of both teachers and parents</a> influence students’ outcomes too. Secondary science students whose teachers had a growth mindset <a href="https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1045824.pdf">showed higher outcomes</a> than those whose teachers who had a fixed mindset.</p> <p>And a 2010 study showed the <a href="https://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11218-010-9126-y">perceptions primary students</a> had of their potential for improvement were associated with what their teachers’ thought of the children’s academic ability. In another study, children whose parents were <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/113/43/12111.short">taught to have a growth mindset</a> about their children’s literacy skills, and to act accordingly, had improved outcomes.</p> <p><strong>It exists on a spectrum</strong></p> <p>Mindset theory seems to conflate two separate phenomena, both of which need to be considered in teaching: a person’s actual capacity such as intelligence, and how they think about it.</p> <p>Students should be aware of what they know at any time and value it. They also need to know this may be insufficient, that it can be extended and how to do that. Educators and parents need to ensure their dialogue with their children does not imply the capacity is fixed. The focus of the talk should be on: what you will know more about in five minutes?</p> <p>When I teach, in both schools and university, I encourage students at the end of a teaching session to identify what they know now that they didn’t know earlier. I ask them to explain how their knowledge has changed and the questions they can answer now.</p> <p>In the early stages of a teaching session, I encourage them to infer questions they might expect to be able to answer having learnt the content. These types of activities encourage students to see their knowledge as dynamic and able to be enhanced.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/127710/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-munro-13237"><em>John Munro</em></a><em>, Professor, Faculty of Education and Arts, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-catholic-university-747">Australian Catholic University</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/you-can-do-it-a-growth-mindset-helps-us-learn-127710">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Happiness: Is feeling content more important than purpose and goals?

<p><em>There is much written about finding one’s life purpose and reaching self actualisation, but do we really need to have one? My partner is happy pottering around the house with his family around him, watching TV, reading the news, working in his unskilled job without responsibility, supporting his football team. Meanwhile, I am frustratingly “growing and developing”, learning, wondering what it is all about – yet without much actually changing in my life. Are drifting and feeling contented in life more important than having a “life purpose” and goals?</em> Brenda, Blackpool</p> <p>Questions about happiness, purpose and goals remind me of <a href="https://theconversation.com/guide-to-the-classics-don-quixote-the-worlds-first-modern-novel-and-one-of-the-best-94097">Don Quixote</a>, the dreaming knight in Cervantes’ novel of the same name, and Sancho Panza, his earthy page. Indeed, literature often contains characters and themes that reflect telling universal truths about human existence, experience – and psychology.</p> <p>As the novel progresses, we realise that both characters are equally sophisticated intellectually. But while Don Quixote’s goals are utopian, romantic and clearly unobtainable, Sancho is satisfied with feeling safe and eating bread and cheese – accompanied by a little wine, of course – after each of their frustrated misadventures.</p> <p>I’m a psychiatrist and research on personality shows that a more open and inquisitive personality will always want to <a href="https://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/10.1027/1614-0001.26.3.132">seek new experiences and sensations</a>. This is more exciting, but also less comfortable, than rejecting what feels strange or unfamiliar.</p> <p>Don Quixote’s sensation-seeking and restless personality, as well as his lofty ideals, are the drivers of his misguided adventures. Unable to find excitement in the comfortable but mundane daily life of a landed country gentleman, he sets out to right all the wrongs in the world in the most chivalrous and valiant manner he can imagine. His ambitious goals are unobtainable, though, and so he remains chronically dissatisfied.</p> <p>In contrast, Sancho’s goals (cheese and wine) are simple, and they are also reliable and immediately achievable. Sancho will inevitably have some difficult emotions, like every other human, that will prevent him from being consistently happy. But he will be less inclined to express his occasional periods of distress in complex existential terms – and they are unlikely to nag and torture him in the same way.</p> <p>On one level, then, Sancho’s personality seems better suited than Don Quixote’s for achieving a satisfactory level of psychological wellbeing. But we need to consider the fact that Quixote’s tortured loftiness will also afford him occasional moments of ecstasy that Sancho will never experience. Quixote will sample all the many wondrous highs – and lows – of existence.</p> <p><strong>Choleric Quixote</strong></p> <p>Quixote has a type of personality that <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/galen.shtml">Galen</a>, the Greek physician of classical times, would have labelled as “choleric”: passionate, charismatic, impulsive and sensation seeking. He also has an extremely rich, but equally unstable, inner life, which produces copious amounts of fantasy and emotion.</p> <p>Soon after the second world war, a London-based psychologist called Hans Eysenck developed another personality theory that included the dimensions of <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1953-05745-000">extroversion and neuroticism</a>. Quixote is high in extroversion (he engages constantly with the external world) and high in neuroticism (his emotional life is unstable and intense), a combination that would be the equivalent of Galen’s choleric personality.</p> <p>Sancho is, of course, the exact opposite. He could be described as “phlegmatic” in Galen’s classification: he is generally introverted, and being perfectly steady in emotional terms, he would certainly score very low on neuroticism. He does not view the world through the filter of a rich but volatile inner life, and instead sees ordinary windmills where Quixote sees formidable giants.</p> <p>Personality types have been found to be <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2020-03328-001">predictors of psychological wellbeing</a> in a way that could be considered relatively intuitive. Essentially, there is a positive correlation between happiness and extroversion and a negative one <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/019188699090138H">between happiness and neuroticism</a>. Quixote is more neurotic than Sancho, but he is also more extroverted. The two will find and experience moments of happiness in different ways.</p> <p>On one level, what we need to be happy is a stable (low neuroticism) and outgoing (extrovert) character. But that’s not the whole story. Those of us who see ourselves as a little more neurotic than we would ideally like – and perhaps not quite as sociable as some others – can find comfort in the knowledge that a busy and lively inner life, coupled with an inquisitive nature, <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2010-16664-004">can be associated with certain types of creativity</a>.</p> <p>The idea of happiness as a state of placidity and serenity, facilitated by a stable and untroubled psychological makeup, is persuasive. But it ignores perhaps the upper and more intense limits of human experience – and these have a power all their own. Cervantes novel, after all, is called “Don Quixote”, not “Sancho Panza”.</p> <p><strong>Self-actualisation</strong></p> <p>You also mention <a href="https://positivepsychology.com/self-actualization/">“self-actualisation”</a> in your question. When <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Abraham-H-Maslow">Abraham Maslow</a>, the celebrated American psychologist, placed self-actualisation at the top of his <a href="https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html">hierarchy of human needs</a>, he thought of it as a positive drive for developing one’s personal potential. Your own personal potential, Brenda, will be different to that of your partner.</p> <p>Maslow thought that more basic needs had to be satisfied before moving up to the next level – water and food before safety, then love, self-esteem and only then self-actualisation. But subsequent research shows that humans don’t always do this in the anticipated order and that satisfying different levels of need either simultaneously, or in the “wrong order”, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21688922">doesn’t seem to affect wellbeing significantly</a>. This explains how those living in poor countries can also satisfy their psychological needs even when the fulfilment of more basic needs is uncertain.</p> <p>In any case, having a set of needs – hierarchical or not – inevitably puts us in a needy position, and the relationship between striving to better ourselves and happiness is not a simple one. Maslow himself struggled in his personal life with issues such as racism (he was Jewish) and an awful relationship with his mother, whom he hated.</p> <h2>Pain and pleasure</h2> <p>Research shows that factors such as <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1047279706001943">poverty</a>, <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/216320">pain</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225959/">loneliness</a> make us unhappy, and it is equally clear that pleasures of any kind contribute towards our sense of wellbeing.</p> <p>The 19th-century British thinker John Stuart Mill postulated in simple terms that happiness is “intended pleasure, and the absence of pain” while unhappiness is <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/utilitarianism-philosophy">“pain, and the privation of pleasure”</a>.</p> <p>Like Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, Mill also saw a similar hierarchy in pleasure, with the physiological at the bottom and the spiritual at the top. He also <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/359472-those-only-are-happy-i-thought-who-have-their-minds">advised against</a> too much introspection in matters of happiness, saying:</p> <blockquote> <p>Ask yourself if you are happy and you cease to be so.</p> </blockquote> <p>I suspect you ask yourself this question at times, Brenda. And even though Mill saw happiness as being predicated by pleasure and pain, he also hinted that being human, with all that this implies, may bring a dissatisfaction that would be preferable to mere contentment.</p> <p>Don Quixote is a dissatisfied man and his ambitions to achieve his glorious goals are always frustrated. He has, however, certain characteristics that have been found to be associated with happiness: an optimistic <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2F0022-3514.50.5.974">attributional style</a> and an internal “locus” (place) of control.</p> <p>Don Quixote’s “internal locus of control” means that he feels in control of his destiny (despite all the evidence to the contrary). Control resides within him. His “optimistic attributional style”, meanwhile, refers to the fact that he always ascribes his failures to transient external forces, rather than to permanent internal issues.</p> <p>Sancho, on the other hand, has a reactive attitude to life. He doesn’t have any fantasies about being in control of his destiny, which he believes is in the lap of the gods. “The lucky man has nothing to worry about,” he says.</p> <p>So, in this respect at least, Don Quixote, driving his own fortune and making his own luck, is probably happier in his quest, however frustrating, than Sancho is in his passive contentment.</p> <p><strong>Contentment versus happiness</strong></p> <p>The difference between contentment and happiness, or to be more precise, the incompatibility that exists between a state of permanent contentment and being human, has also been explored in modern novels, written centuries after Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, such as <a href="https://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item126934.html">The Time Machine by HG Wells</a> or <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/Brave-New-World">Brave New World by Aldous Huxley</a>.</p> <p>Some of the characters in these future dystopias, where pain and suffering have been eradicated, are perfectly placid, even content. But their insipid pseudo-happiness, devoid of choice or intense emotion, is less desirable than our own imperfect emotional tribulations – at least according to the authors.</p> <p>Indeed, our ability to feel happy is affected by a variety of personality factors and temperamental attitudes, not by just one single dimension of placidity versus psychological restlessness, or even optimism versus pessimism.</p> <p>But does it matter anyway? Whether we are “half-empty” or “half-full” personalities, none of us is <a href="https://theconversation.com/humans-arent-designed-to-be-happy-so-stop-trying-119262">designed to be happy</a> – only, ultimately, to survive and reproduce. Consequently, we will all battle with frequent unpleasant emotions, whatever our temperament.</p> <p>It is good, Brenda, that you haven’t given up your efforts to grow as a person and that you remain hungry for knowledge. Even if I told you that there is a better strategy for happiness, that you should be content with watching television and little else, I am pretty certain you wouldn’t want that.</p> <p>You need to continue being who you are, even if being who you are doesn’t transport you to a state of sustained and uninterrupted psychological bliss. Our nature is to chase the teasing and elusive butterfly of happiness, not always to capture it. Happiness can’t be bottled and bought and sold.</p> <p>It can, however, be a journey – and this never-ending quest includes you, Brenda, as well as your partner. And perhaps we can all find comfort in the knowledge that our nagging dissatisfaction is a key part of what makes us human.</p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rafael-euba-294554"><em>Rafael Euba</em></a><em>, Consultant and Senior Lecturer in Old Age Psychiatry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/happiness-is-feeling-content-more-important-than-purpose-and-goals-131503">original article</a>.</em></p>

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The forgotten benefits of a ‘bad’ memory

<p>Memory is the essence of our psychological functioning, essential for every move we make – getting dressed, having breakfast, driving to work, doing a crossword, making a cup of tea. Nothing we do in our conscious daily lives does not require memory.</p> <p>So, given our reliance on it, why is it that memory sometimes – or often – lets us down? And is this something to be concerned about, or might it actually be healthy?</p> <p>Consider some of the many ways in which our memories feel like they’re not working properly. There’s the name you’re told on meeting someone new which you forget within seconds; the act of going upstairs to get something and then forgetting what you went there for; or blissfully remembering a foreign holiday several years ago without any memory of the incident at the airport that upset the family.</p> <p>It’s probably true that everyone can relate to each of these memory “failures” – and indeed they are failures. But it may be that we should not be overly concerned about them.</p> <p>The various types of forgetting involve different issues. For example, sometimes it’s clear that we simply haven’t set a proper memory down in our mind in the first place, like when we forget why we went upstairs.</p> <p>In other cases there is clearly a memory there, but it’s just not retrievable – such as when a name you know is on the tip of your tongue. Or perhaps the memory has been altered in some regard along the way, when you’re convinced something happened on a Thursday, yet all the facts point to it being a Tuesday.</p> <p>So what is memory for, and why is forgetfulness such a prevalent experience? Memory serves to give us a record of our lives, to situate us in the present and to plan for the future. It is essential to a sense of self. And while memory lapses can be frustrating, there are ways around them, which can sometimes be beneficial to that sense of self.</p> <p>If I am constantly forgetting where I put my keys, I develop a routine to deal with the situation. It’s a simple but effective solution which requires practice (and remembering to enact): always put your keys in the same place.</p> <p>Or, if I want to remember someone’s name, I ensure that on meeting them, I make an extra effort to register their face, say their name aloud, and perhaps try to associate it with someone else of the same name. (Apparently one of former US president Bill Clinton’s strengths as a charismatic politician was that he <a href="https://www.oprah.com/omagazine/oprah-interviews-president-bill-clinton/2">always remembered people’s names</a> – but this certainly wouldn’t have come without a level of deliberate concentration.</p> <p>And if I remember a totally happy holiday and repress the negative incident at the airport, this actually helps me feel better about myself and my experience. I have subconsciously edited out the negative aspect to create a more positive recollection.</p> <p>Another interesting example of this kind of beneficial “self-editing” is where long-term couples will say to their other half: “I love you more today than yesterday.” When psychologists examined this concept, they found it not to be entirely true. Instead, <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1999-00166-004">they found</a> that long-term couples have a commitment to each other that is important for their own personal well being. So if I feel I love you more than yesterday, it is ultimately beneficial to feeling positive about myself – even if it is not objectively true.</p> <p><strong>Remember to forget</strong></p> <p>Most people’s memories fail them regularly, and this is because our minds have a limited ability to process all the information in our environment. It simply is not feasible to remember everything we experience.</p> <p>That said, there are rare cases of people who claim to have “super memories”. They can remember what the weather was like on March 6 2016, for example, or what they had for lunch on the September 15 2004. One of those “super mnemonists” <a href="https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-26/edition-10/interview-would-you-want-super-memory">has described</a> the ability as “a curse [which] plays over and over in my mind”.</p> <p>The reality of remembering everything would be an overwhelming experience. So for most of us, forgetting things is not just normal – but desirable.</p> <p>Regular memory failures can often be deliberately and methodically overcome, while changes in memory over time are often due to people maintaining a positive sense of self. And that’s worth remembering.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/123108/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/catriona-morrison-347620">Catriona Morrison</a>, Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bradford-911">University of Bradford</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-forgotten-benefits-of-a-bad-memory-123108">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why memories come flooding back when you visit places from your past

<p>We all know our memories get worse as time goes on – your recollection of what you did yesterday is probably a lot better than for the same day three years ago.</p> <p>And yet we often have moments where old and seemingly forgotten memories pop back into mind. Perhaps you have visited your childhood home, walked into your old bedroom, and been hit with a wave of nostalgia. What triggers this rush of memories, and how can you suddenly remember things you may not have thought about for decades?</p> <p>Researchers are realising that the context in which memories are created is crucially important in remembering them later. This idea is known as “<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41583-019-0150-4">contextual-binding theory</a>”, and it boils down to three components: context learning, context change, and memory search.</p> <p>Let’s start with learning. It is well established that learning in the brain happens by a process of association. If A and B occur together, they become associated. Contextual-binding theory goes a step further: A and B are associated not just with one other, but also with the <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2009-00258-003">context in which they occurred</a>.</p> <p>What is context? It’s not just your physical location – it’s a <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2007-02165-011">mental state</a> that also comprises the thoughts, emotions, and other mental activity you’re experiencing at a given moment. Even as you read this page, changes in your thoughts and mental activity are causing your mental context to change.</p> <p>As a consequence, each memory is associated with different states of context. However, some context states will be similar to each other – perhaps because they share the same location, or mood, or have some other factor in common.</p> <p>This similarity between contexts is important when it comes to retrieving memories. Your brain’s memory search process is rather like a Google search, in that you’re more likely to find what you’re looking for if your search terms closely match the source content. During memory search, your <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2009-00258-003">current mental context <em>is</em> your set of search terms</a>. In any given situation, your brain is rapidly rifling through your memories for ones that most closely resemble your current state of context.</p> <p><strong>Simple but deep</strong></p> <p>These mechanisms are simple, but the implications are profound. According to the theory, you’re most likely to remember memories from contexts that are similar to the context you’re in now. Because your mental context is always changing, your mental context will be most similar to recently experienced memories. This explains why it’s harder to remember older events.</p> <p>But, of course, older memories aren’t permanently forgotten. If you can change your context to resemble those from seemingly long-forgotten memories, you should be able to remember them. This is why those old memories come flooding back when you step into your childhood bedroom or walk past your old school.</p> <p>Context-dependent memory was confirmed by an <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.2044-8295.1975.tb01468.x">ingenious 1975 experiment</a> in which divers memorised lists of words and were then tested both on land and underwater. On land, their recall was best for the words they had learned on land, whereas underwater they were better at remembering the word lists they learned underwater.</p> <p>This phenomenon isn’t limited to physical locations. You may have noticed that when you’re sad about something, you tend to remember other sad events from your life. This is because your mood and emotions also comprise your mental context. Experiments have <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1364661303002183">confirmed</a> that memory is enhanced when your current mood matches the mood in which you learned the information.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079742110530032">More than a century’s worth of studies</a> have confirmed we are also better at remembering things if we experience them at different times, rather than repeatedly in quick session. This is one of the main reasons why, when preparing for exams, a regular study routine is more effective than cramming.</p> <p>According to the theory, rapidly repeated material is associated with a single state of context, whereas material repeated across different times and events is associated with several different states of context. This pays off later, when you’re sitting in the exam hall desperately trying to recall the chemical formula for potassium permanganate, because your current state of context will be more likely to match one of the many states of context in which you so diligently did your chemistry revision.</p> <p><strong>Context in the brain</strong></p> <p>Contextual-binding theory can <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41583-019-0150-4">potentially explain a host of other phenomena</a>, such as the effects of brain damage on memory. People with damage to a region in the centre of the brain called the hippocampus are often <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc497229/">unable to form new memories</a>. We suspect this is where context-binding actually occurs, especially given that the hippocampus <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/1098-1063(2000)10:4%3C420::AID-HIPO8%3E3.0.CO;2-5">receives inputs from virtually all other brain regions</a>, enabling associations between different sights, smells, physical sensations, and emotions.</p> <p>A competing theory, known as <a href="https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.142050">systems consolidation theory</a>, instead proposes that memories are initially stored in the hippocampus but are gradually transferred and strengthened in other brain regions over time.</p> <p>This theory is supported by the fact that <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797612441220">memory for new material is better when you rest after learning</a>. Time spent resting may give the brain a chance to consolidate new memories.</p> <p>However, contextual-binding theory can also <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cogs.12214">potentially explain this benefit</a>. Resting immediately after learning, as opposed to carrying on shovelling facts into your brain, means fewer memories share the same context, making them easier to distinguish when you revisit that context later.</p> <p>This also explains why rest is also beneficial <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13423-014-0737-8">before learning</a>, as well as after. And it underpins the tried and tested advice for hardworking students everywhere: don’t forget to get lots of sleep!<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/124983/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-osth-850390">Adam Osth</a>, Senior Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-melbourne-722">University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-why-memories-come-flooding-back-when-you-visit-places-from-your-past-124983">original article</a>.</em></p>

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5 amazing facts about your brain

<p>Our brain is the most complex organ in the body. Not only does it control basic life functions like breathing, organ function, and movement, it’s also behind more complex processes – everything from thought, controlling our behaviour and emotions, and creating memories. But despite how important our brains are, many people still know very little about it.</p> <p>This is your brain, explained.</p> <p><strong>1. It’s always active</strong></p> <p>Even when we’re sleeping, our brain is always active. It has to be to keep us alive. But different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions. The brain is divided into four pairs of lobes on each side of the head. The <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00761/full">frontal lobes</a> are located near the front of the head and the <a href="https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ert/2012/176157/">temporal lobes</a> are just beneath them. The <a href="https://academic.oup.com/cercor/article/20/3/517/416381">parietal lobes</a> are located in the middle and the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544320/">occipital lobes</a> are at the back of the head.</p> <p>The frontal lobe is often associated with what “makes us human”. It’s involved in cognitive processes such as reasoning, learning, creativity, attention and controlling muscles used for movement and speech. It also helps us make memories, and learn to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855545/">regulate emotions and behaviour</a>.</p> <p>The parietal lobes are involved in a mixture of functions. These include sensory and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2808313/">numerical</a> processing, as well as visuo-spatial information – which is needed for movement, depth perception, and navigation. The temporal lobes also receive information relating to sounds – including the language we hear – as well as in <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/11808558/medial_temporal_lobe_memory_system.pdf?response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3Dmedial_temporal_lobe_memory_system.pdf&amp;X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&amp;X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A%2F20200226%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&amp;X-Amz-Date=20200226T155856Z&amp;X-Amz-Expires=3600&amp;X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&amp;X-Amz-Signature=42dd7ff43e604765e3ec6fd2ce0b50c3b9b1774bfe97ab1af6eb6c2375c228ca">memory</a> <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/276/5310/264">processes</a>. The occipital lobes are involved in visual processing. When light enters your eyes, it’s transmitted by nerves to this region and converted to an image that you “see”.</p> <p>The lobes are further divided into functional regions. These are individual regions of a certain lobe that’s responsible for specific functions. For example, an area in the frontal lobe called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526096/">Broca’s area</a> is specifically involved in language production and comprehension.</p> <p>By <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3073717/">scanning the brain</a>, scientists can measure when and which areas become more active in the brain by looking at which areas experience an increase in blood flow, which delivers the extra oxygen the area needs to function or perform a task. Knowing which parts perform which tasks is important both for research, and when performing surgery.</p> <p><strong>2. It’s constantly receiving information</strong></p> <p>The brain is constantly receiving a flow of information. This information is controlled by two pathways, which keep everything in check. <a href="https://teachmeanatomy.info/neuroanatomy/pathways/ascending-tracts-sensory/">Sensory information</a> is what flows into the brain, and <a href="https://teachmeanatomy.info/neuroanatomy/pathways/descending-tracts-motor/">motor information</a> is what flows out of it.</p> <p>Although the brain is always receiving this information, we’re often unaware of it as it goes areas of the brain that process “unconscious” information. For example, information about the position of your muscles and joints is always being sent to the brain – but we rarely notice this until it becomes uncomfortable, or you need to adjust your position.</p> <p>But when it comes to outgoing motor information – including voluntary actions we control, such as picking something up – we are aware of the function. However, just like sensory information, motor actions can happen involuntarily, like breathing, or the muscles moving food through our gastrointestinal system.</p> <p><strong>3. About 20% of the body’s blood goes to the brain</strong></p> <p>Maintaining brain function, like with all living tissues, relies on the supply of oxygen from blood. The brain receives between 15-20% of blood from the heart at rest – but <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5536794/">many factors can effect</a> this, including age, gender, and weight. For the average male, around 70 millilitres of blood pump round the body per heartbeat. Therefore, approximately 14 millilitres are delivered to the brain per heartbeat, which is essential for getting oxygen to the brain cells.</p> <p>It’s well known that more strokes – where blood supply to areas of the brain are interrupted – happen on the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633197/">left hand side</a> of the brain. This is important as the right hand side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice-versa. Since researchers have found more strokes occur in the <a href="https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.007385">left side of the brain</a> – which may impact the functionality of the right-hand side – people who are right handed might be more likely to suffer loss of functionality after a stroke.</p> <p><strong>4. Brain surgery doesn’t hurt</strong></p> <p>A viral video of a <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-london-51557044/patient-plays-violin-during-her-brain-surgery">woman playing the violin</a> while surgeons operated to remove a brain tumour has left many people asking a lot of questions about our brains. While this might have seemed bizarre, being awake during brain surgery is actually more common than people might think. Often, surgeries relating to “functional” areas of the brain – areas responsible for movement, speech, or vision – require the patient be put under general anaesthetic and then awoken so that these functions can be assessed as the operation proceeds.</p> <p>Surprisingly, the actual surgery doesn’t hurt the brain at all. This is because the brain doesn’t have specialised pain receptors called <a href="https://nba.uth.tmc.edu/neuroscience/m/s2/chapter06.html">nociceptors</a>. The only painful parts of the surgery are when the incision is made through the skin, skull, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10877/">meninges</a> (the layers of connective tissue that protect the brain). Depending on a number of factors the patient may have general or local anaesthetic for this part of the procedure.</p> <p><strong>5. Brain damage can change who we are</strong></p> <p>A vast amount of what we know about the brain has come from things going wrong. One of the most famous cases is that of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1114479/">Phineas Gage</a>. He was known as a responsible, upstanding worker. But when an accident at work caused a metal rod to go through his skull, the damage to his frontal lobe caused him to become childish, disrespectful and impulsive. Gage showed 19th-century scientists that damage to the frontal lobe can cause significant personality changes.</p> <p>We also know that people who have lost their vision after their occipital lobe was damaged – either from trauma, tumour growth, or stroke – may still maintain some aspects of sight through something called “<a href="https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20150925-blindsight-the-strangest-form-of-consciousness">blindsight</a>”. This tells us not all visual information goes to the visual cortex in the occipital lobe. People with blindsight might still be able to detect visual information and <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/news/medical-practice/blindsight-phenomenon/">navigate around obstacles</a> despite their sight loss. Some even report being able to “see” certain emotions and describe how it <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5493986/">makes them feel</a>. This shows how highly interconnected brain functions are.</p> <p>Although researchers know a lot about the brain and what it does, we have much left to learn. We have yet to work out what some areas of the brain do – and how they communicate with other parts of the organ.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/132621/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, Professor and Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-amazing-facts-about-your-brain-132621">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How the way you walk could be used to identify some types of dementia

<p>More than <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia">50m people worldwide</a> are currently living with dementia. With an ageing population, it’s likely that this number will only continue to grow, as getting older is one of the biggest risk factors in developing dementia. But until researchers find a cure, having ways to diagnose this condition early and effectively is important for providing patients with the best treatment possible.</p> <p>Thankfully, new research is bringing us steps closer to providing patients with better dementia diagnoses. And one study has actually found that <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1525861015008518">the way you walk</a> can change several years before developing dementia. This is because dementia is associated with brain cells dying, which can affect many things that we take for granted in everyday life, such as memory and thinking – and even walking.</p> <p>However, dementia is an umbrella term for many different subtypes of the disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease or <a href="https://dementiaroadmap.info/category/diagnosing-well/dementia-subtypes/#targetText=They%20are%20often%20named%20according,Jakob%20disease%20and%20Korsakoff's%20syndrome.">Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease</a>. And because these subtypes can have different symptoms, it’s important to be able to correctly diagnose patients to provide them with the most effective form of treatment.</p> <p>This is what <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jalz.2019.06.4953">my research set out to do</a>. I looked at Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia to see if they each have a walking pattern that differentiates them. I found that people with Lewy body dementia have a unique walking pattern when compared to those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.</p> <p><strong>Subtle differences</strong></p> <p>Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia often have similar clinical symptoms – and we might not always notice the subtle differences between the two. That means that people <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/129/3/729/390830">may not receive the right diagnosis</a>, which could affect the care and treatment people with these conditions receive.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1552526011001014">Alzheimer’s disease</a>, the most common form of dementia, is characterised in the early stages by memory problems, such as consistently forgetting what happened the day before.</p> <p><a href="https://n.neurology.org/content/89/1/88.short">Lewy body dementia</a> is instead associated with movement problems, such as slow and stiff movements or problems with balance. It’s also associated with attention problems – where someone might be very attentive one minute, then struggle to concentrate on who they are talking to or what they’re doing moments later.</p> <p>Current treatments for Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia may include being prescribed medication which may temporarily improve symptoms, cognitive stimulation therapy, or <a href="https://www.dementiauk.org/music-therapy/">even music therapy</a>. For Lewy body dementia, treatment strategies <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia-with-lewy-bodies/treatment/">also include physiotherapy</a>.</p> <p>In order to understand if these dementia subtypes could be differentiated by their walking patterns, I looked at subtle aspects in the way a person’s walking, such as their speed and length of steps, and how much their steps change as they walk.</p> <p>People were then split into three groups: the control group, who were adults over 65 with no memory or thinking problems. The other two groups consisted of people with Alzheimer’s disease and people with Lewy body dementia.</p> <p>People were asked to walk across a mat with thousands of sensors inside it which created an electronic footprint. From this electronic footprint, I was able to find out more about a person’s walking patterns, such as how fast or slow they walked, how short or long their steps were, how long it took to make a step, how much their step times and step lengths changed as they walk (known as “variability”), how different their left and right steps look (described as “asymmetry”), and finally, how wide or narrow their steps are.</p> <p>I found that people with both types of dementia could be distinguished from the normal ageing group based on their walking pattern. They walked slower with shorter steps, were more variable and asymmetric, and spent longer with both feet on the ground compared to control subjects. This shows that people with dementia have significant walking problems, and that we need to look at this in people at risk of developing dementia to see if it can predict the onset of the condition.</p> <p>Importantly, I found that the people with Lewy body dementia had a unique walking pattern that distinguished them from those with Alzheimer’s disease. Their steps were even more variable and asymmetric when they walked.</p> <p>Current methods of diagnosis rely on observation and reports of key symptoms, which indicate the need to carry out a memory assessment. Brain scans are recommended to enhance confidence in diagnosis. However, this method relies on symptoms to already be apparent, while objective methods to support early diagnosis, such as a walking test, may reveal underlying problems before such symptoms become visible.</p> <p>By assessing someone’s walking, we could potentially detect and diagnose dementia earlier and more accurately. <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/17/health/research/signs-of-cognitive-decline-and-alzheimers-are-seen-in-gait.html">Evidence has shown</a> that walking patterns change before memory and recognition problems become apparent.</p> <p>And although Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia seem quite different, in reality it can be hard to actually recognise the symptoms of Lewy body dementia – meaning many people may receive an incorrect diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. And providing patients with the correct diagnosis is especially important, as certain drugs, such as anti-psychotics, can be harmful to people with <a href="https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/types-dementia/dementia-with-lewy-bodies-diagnosis">dementia with Lewy bodies</a>.</p> <p>Understanding that different types of dementia have unique walking patterns could help patients receive the correct diagnosis. And this may allow researchers to better understand the effects of dementia on the brain and body in earlier stages, aiding treatment and prevention in the future.</p> <p>For people with dementia themselves, earlier diagnosis can give them and their families more time to understand their diagnosis and plan for the future. As of yet, there is no cure for dementia, but an accurate diagnosis gives access to support and information, and <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alzheimers-disease/treatment/">treatments to help alleviate symptoms. </a><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/124023/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/riona-mcardle-841175">Ríona McArdle</a>, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Brain and Movement Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/newcastle-university-906">Newcastle University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-way-you-walk-could-be-used-to-identify-some-types-of-dementia-124023">original article</a>.</em></p>

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5 things you didn’t know about psychopaths

<p>In the hit BBC TV show, <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7016936/">Killing Eve</a></em>, Villanelle, a psychopathic assassin, tells Eve, a security service operative, “You should never call a psychopath a psychopath. It upsets them.” She then pouts her lip in an imitation of someone feeling upset.</p> <p>Most people think they know what a psychopath is: someone who has no feelings. Someone who probably tortured animals for fun when they were little. But here are five things you probably didn’t know about psychopaths.</p> <p><strong>1. There’s a bit of a psychopath in all of us.</strong> Psychopathy is a spectrum, and we are all somewhere on that spectrum. If you’ve ever shown a lack of guilt or remorse, or not felt empathy with someone, or you’ve charmed someone to get what you want (remember that last job interview?), then you’ve displayed a psychopathic trait. Maybe you’re fearless in certain situations or you’ve taken big risks – also psychopathic traits.</p> <p><strong>2. Psychopaths are not all “psycho”.</strong> Patrick Bateman in <em>American Psycho</em> and Hannibal Lecter in <em>Silence of the Lambs</em> are typical portrayals of psychopaths in popular culture. While it’s true that most serial killers are psychopaths, the vast majority of psychopaths are not serial killers. Psychopaths comprise <a href="https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(14)00771-4?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0960982214007714%3Fshowall%3Dtrue">about 1%</a> of the general population and can be productive members of society.</p> <p>Their lack of emotions, such as anxiety and fear, helps them to stay calm in frightening situations. Experiments have shown that they have a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2242355/">reduced startle response</a>. If someone gave you a fright while you were watching a horror movie, you would probably show an “exaggerated startle response” – in other words, you’d jump out of your skin. Psychopaths react far less intensely in such fear-evoking situations. If anything, they remain calm. This can be a useful trait if you’re a soldier, a surgeon or in the special forces.</p> <p>Psychopaths can also be very charming (even if only superficially) and they have the ability to confidently take risks, be ruthless, goal-oriented and make bold decisions. This makes them well suited to environments like Wall Street, the boardroom and parliament. Here, psychopaths are more likely to be making a killing than killing.</p> <p><strong>3. Psychopaths prefer <em>Sex in the City</em> to <em>Little House on the Prairie</em>.</strong> Psychopaths are more likely to be found in towns and cities. They prefer what psychologists call a <a href="http://aglenn.people.ua.edu/uploads/1/4/1/8/14182546/glenn_avb_2011.pdf">“fast life history strategy”</a>. That is, they focus on increasing their short-term mating opportunities and number of sexual partners rather than investing a lot of effort in long-term mating, parenthood and life stability. This strategy is linked to increased risk taking and selfishness. Also, cities offer psychopaths better opportunities for finding people to manipulate. They also offer greater anonymity and hence a reduced risk of being detected.</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> <strong>Female psychopaths are somewhat different.</strong> Although male and female psychopaths are similar in many ways, some studies have found differences. For example, female psychopaths appear to more prone to <a href="https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/pdf/10.1521/pedi_2016_30_237">anxiety, emotional problems and promiscuity</a> than male psychopaths.</p> <p>Some psychologists argue that female psychopathy is sometimes diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, instead – characterised by poorly regulated emotions, impulsive reactions and outbursts of anger. This might explain why most studies show that rates of psychopathy are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19042020">lower in females</a>.</p> <p>Our <a href="http://conference.unizd.hr/ecp19/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2018/07/Program.pdf">latest research</a> shows that female psychopaths seem to prefer to date non-psychopathic men in the short-term, perhaps as a plaything or to allow easy deception and manipulation. But for long-term relationships, a female psychopath will be looking for a fellow psychopath. Eventually, birds of a feather, flock together.</p> <p><strong>5. Psychopaths do have feelings … well, some feelings.</strong> While psychopaths show a specific lack in emotions, such as anxiety, fear and sadness, they can feel other emotions, such as happiness, joy, surprise and disgust, in a similar way as most of us would. So while they may struggle to recognise fearful or sad faces and are less responsive to threats and punishments, they can identify happy faces and they do respond positively when getting rewarded.</p> <p>However, while winning a fiver might make you happy, a psychopath would need a bigger reward to perk them up. In other words, they can feel happy and motivated if the rewards are high enough. Of course, they can also get angry, especially in response to provocation, or get frustrated when their goals are thwarted. So Villanelle is right, to some extent. You can hurt a psychopath’s feelings, but probably different feelings and for different reasons.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/103865/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nadja-heym-561659">Nadja Heym</a>, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/nottingham-trent-university-1338">Nottingham Trent University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-things-you-didnt-know-about-psychopaths-103865">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How cameras in public spaces might change how we think

<p>Facial recognition is <a href="https://theconversation.com/facial-recognition-is-spreading-faster-than-you-realise-132047">increasingly being used</a> in many countries around the world. In some cases <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/audio/2020/feb/04/the-rise-of-facial-recognition-technology-podcast">the take up has been dramatic</a>. As a result, people are being observed by cameras more than ever, whether in stores, on public transit, or at their workplaces.</p> <p>Using this technology may seem justified when it helps law enforcement track down criminals and make the lives of ordinary citizens safer. But how does the constant observation affect the citizens it is supposed to protect from criminals?</p> <p>It’s easy to imagine that pervasive camera observation will change people’s behaviour. Often, such changes are for the better. For example, research <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-46387-004">has shown</a> that when observed, people donate more to charity and wash their hands more frequently to prevent transmitting diseases. Given that these positive outcomes are in everyone’s best interest, it seems that people’s increased observation is positive for society as a whole – as long as privacy regulations are strictly followed.</p> <p><strong>A magnifying effect</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.academia.edu/33348873/Being_Observed_Magnifies_Action">My research</a>, however, points to a consequence of being observed that has so far been neglected in the public debate around increased observation. My co-authors and I found in several experiments that being observed changes not only what people do, but also how they think. Specifically, we found that when people know that they are observed, they see themselves through the eyes of the observer (or through the lens of a camera).</p> <p>By adopting the perspective of the observer in addition to their own perspective, people perceive themselves as if under a magnifying glass. As a result, people’s observed actions feel magnified. For example, we asked some volunteers to eat a portion of chips in front of a camera, whereas others ate the same food unobserved. The observed volunteers afterwards thought they had eaten larger portions because their behaviour felt to them as if under a magnifying glass.</p> <p>Such a finding might seem like harmless collateral of increased observation, given its other benefits. However, we also found more troubling thought patterns when people were observed. We asked volunteers to take a test, in which they inevitably gave some wrong answers. Those volunteers who were observed during the test thought they had given more wrong answers than unobserved volunteers, although in reality there was no difference between the groups of volunteers.</p> <p>So for the observed volunteers, their errors loomed larger in their minds. The same happened <a href="https://www.academia.edu/33348873/Being_Observed_Magnifies_Action">when we surveyed</a> badminton players after team tournaments. Those players whose teams lost, thought they were personally responsible for the loss to a larger extent when more spectators had observed them play. Again, any errors in their play loomed larger when a player had felt observed when playing for their unsuccessful team. In other words, being observed changed how people <em>thought</em> about their behaviour.</p> <p>We do not know yet what this magnifying glass effect means for people’s thoughts and feelings in the long run. Feeling that one’s errors and failures loom large might hurt one’s confidence and self-esteem. Similarly, small digressions might seem more serious under constant observation. Someone who enjoys leaving the house in their pyjamas to wolf down some junk food might think back with shame and disgust when observed during such forgivable behaviour.</p> <p>As camera observation becomes more and more prevalent, citizens who are concerned with privacy <a href="https://www.gov.uk/request-cctv-footage-of-yourself">are assured</a> that most camera recordings are never watched, or are erased after a short while. Yet, we are only beginning to understand some of the psychological consequences of increased observation. These effects on people’s thought and feelings might linger, even long after the camera tape has been erased.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/132537/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/janina-steinmetz-648854">Janina Steinmetz</a>, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Cass Business School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/city-university-of-london-1047">City, University of London</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-cameras-in-public-spaces-might-change-how-we-think-132537">original article</a>.</em></p>

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What would happen if we all just stopped following rules?

<p><em>I’m in my late twenties and I’m feeling more and more constrained by rules. From the endless signs that tell me to “stand on the right” on escalators or “skateboarding forbidden” in public places to all those unwritten societal rules such as the expectation that I should settle down, buy a house and have a family. Do we really need all these rules, why should I follow them and what would happen if we all ignored them?</em> Will, 28, London</p> <p>We all feel the oppressive presence of rules, both written and unwritten – it’s practically a rule of life. Public spaces, organisations, dinner parties, even relationships and casual conversations are rife with regulations and red tape that seemingly are there to dictate our every move. We rail against rules being an affront to our freedom, and argue that they’re “there to be broken”.</p> <p>But as a behavioural scientist I believe that it is not really rules, norms and customs in general that are the problem – but the <em>unjustified</em> ones. The tricky and important bit, perhaps, is establishing the difference between the two.</p> <p>A good place to start is to imagine life in a world without rules. Apart from our bodies following some very strict and <a href="https://theconversation.com/biology-and-why-the-most-compelling-argument-for-the-eu-is-as-old-as-life-itself-59317">complex biological laws</a>, without which we’d all be doomed, the very words I’m writing now follow the rules of English. In Byronic moments of artistic individualism, I might dreamily think of liberating myself from them. But would this new linguistic freedom really do me any good or set my thoughts free?</p> <p>Some – Lewis Carroll in his poem <a href="https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42916/jabberwocky"><em>Jabberwocky</em></a>, for example – have made a success of a degree of <a href="https://study.com/academy/lesson/literary-nonsense-genre-definition-examples.html">literary anarchy</a>. But on the whole, breaking away from the rules of my language makes me not so much unchained as incoherent.</p> <p>Byron was a notorious rule breaker in his personal life, but he was also a <a href="https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/cambridgeauthors/rhythm-and-rhyme-in-don-juan/">stickler for rhyme and meter</a>. In his poem, <a href="https://poets.org/poem/when-we-two-parted">When We Two Parted</a>, for example, Byron writes about forbidden love, a love that broke the rules, but does do so by precisely following some well-established poetic laws. And many would argue it is all the more powerful for it:</p> <blockquote> <p>In secret we met<br />In silence I grieve,<br />That thy heart could forget,<br />Thy spirit deceive.<br />If I should meet thee<br />After long years,<br />How should I greet thee?–<br />With silence and tears.</p> </blockquote> <p>Consider, too, how rules are the essence of sport, games and puzzles – even when their entire purpose is supposedly fun. The <a href="https://www.chess.com/learn-how-to-play-chess">rules of chess</a>, say, can trigger a tantrum if I want to “castle” to get out of check, but find that they say I can’t; or if I find your pawn getting to my side of the board and turning into a queen, rook, knight or bishop. Similarly, find me a football fan who hasn’t at least once raged against the offside rule.</p> <p>But chess or football without rules wouldn’t be chess or football – they would be entirely formless and meaningless activities. Indeed, a game with no rules is no game at all.</p> <p>Lots of the norms of everyday life perform precisely the same function as the rules of games – telling us what “moves” we can, and can’t, make. The conventions of “pleases” and “thank yous” that seem so irksome to young children are indeed arbitrary – but the fact that we have some such conventions, and perhaps critically that we agree what they are, is part of what makes our social interactions run smoothly.</p> <p>And rules about driving on the left or the right, stopping at red lights, queuing, not littering, picking up our dog’s deposits and so on fall into the same category. They are the building blocks of a harmonious society.</p> <p><strong>The call of chaos</strong></p> <p>Of course, there has long been an appetite among some people for a less formalised society, a society without government, a world where individual freedom takes precedence: an anarchy.</p> <p>The trouble with anarchy, though, is that it is inherently unstable – humans continually, and spontaneously, <a href="https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Beyond-Markets-and-States%3A-Polycentric-Governance-Ostrom/3a5c55353bb7d4b29bc6ed45d062e78bd8291a66">generate new rules</a> governing behaviour, communication and economic exchange, and they do so as rapidly as old rules are dismantled.</p> <p>A few decades ago, the generic pronoun in written language was widely assumed to be male: he/him/his. That rule has, quite rightly, largely been overturned. Yet it has also been replaced – not by an absence of rules, but by a different and broader set of <a href="https://qz.com/work/1647596/gender-pronouns-in-the-workplace-are-not-a-passing-trend/">rules governing our use of pronouns</a>.</p> <p>Or let’s return to the case of sport. A game may start by kicking a pig’s bladder from one end of a village to another, with ill-defined teams, and potentially riotous violence. But it ends up, after a few centuries, with a <a href="http://www.thefa.com/football-rules-governance/lawsandrules">hugely complex rule book</a> dictating every detail of the game. We even create international governing bodies to oversee them.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Beyond-Markets-and-States%3A-Polycentric-Governance-Ostrom/3a5c55353bb7d4b29bc6ed45d062e78bd8291a66">political economist Elinor Ostrom</a> (who shared the Noble Prize for economics in 2009) observed the same phenomenon of spontaneous rule construction when people had collectively to manage common resources such as common land, fisheries, or water for irrigation.</p> <p>She found that people collectively construct rules about, say, how many cattle a person can graze, where, and when; who gets how much water, and what should be done when the resource is limited; who monitors whom, and which rules resolve disputes. These rules aren’t just invented by rulers and imposed from the top down – instead, they often arise, unbidden, from the needs of mutually agreeable social and economic interactions.</p> <p>The urge to overturn stifling, unjust or simply downright pointless rules is entirely justified. But without some rules – and some tendency for us to stick to them – society would slide rapidly into pandemonium. Indeed, many social scientists would see our tendency to create, stick to, and enforce rules as the very foundation of <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5014575_The_Logic_of_Appropriateness">social and economic life</a>.</p> <p>Our relationship with rules does seem to be unique to humans. Of course, many animals behave in highly ritualistic ways – for example, the <a href="https://peerj.com/articles/3987/">bizarre and complex courtship</a> dances of different species of bird of paradise – but these patterns are wired into their genes, not invented by past generations of birds. And, while humans establish and maintain rules by <a href="https://www.econ.uzh.ch/dam/jcr:ffffffff-9758-127f-0000-00004797af07/iewwp106.pdf">punishing rule violations</a>, chimpanzees – our closest relatives – do not. Chimps may retaliate when their food is stolen but, crucially, they don’t punish food stealing in general – even if the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/109/37/14824">victim is a close relative</a>.</p> <p>In humans, rules also take hold early. <a href="https://www.eva.mpg.de/psycho/staff/tomas/pdf/rakoczyNorms.pdf">Experiments show that children</a>, by the age of three, can be taught entirely arbitrary rules for playing a game. Not only that, when a “puppet” (controlled by an experimenter) arrives on the scene and begins to violate the rules, children will criticise the puppet, protesting with comments such as “You are doing that wrong!” They will even attempt to teach the puppet to do better.</p> <p>Indeed, despite our protests to the contrary, rules seem hardwired into our DNA. In fact, our species’ ability to latch onto, and enforce, arbitrary rules is crucial to our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2865079/">success as a species</a>. If each of us had to justify each rule from scratch (why we drive on the left in some countries, and on the right in others; why we say please and thank you), our minds would grind to a halt. Instead, we are able to learn the hugely complex systems of linguistic and social norms without asking too many questions – we simply absorb “the way we do things round here”.</p> <p><strong>Instruments of tyranny</strong></p> <p>But we must be careful – for this way tyranny also lies. Humans have a powerful sense of wanting to <a href="https://theconversation.com/would-you-stand-up-to-an-oppressive-regime-or-would-you-conform-heres-the-science-124469">enforce, sometimes oppressive, patterns of behaviour</a> – correct spelling, no stranded prepositions, no split infinitives, hats off in church, standing for the national anthem – irrespective of their justification. And while the shift from “This is what we all do” to “This is what we all ought to do” is a <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2016-38724-006">well-known ethical fallacy</a>, it is deeply embedded in human psychology.</p> <p>One danger is that rules can develop their own momentum: people can become so fervent about arbitrary rules of dress, dietary restrictions or the proper treatment of the sacred that they may exact the most extreme punishments to maintain them.</p> <p>Political ideologues and religious fanatics often mete out such retribution – but so do repressive states, bullying bosses and coercive partners: the rules must be obeyed, just because they are the rules.</p> <p>Not only that, but criticising rules or failing to enforce them (not to draw attention to a person wearing inappropriate dress, for example) becomes a transgression requiring punishment itself.</p> <p>And then there’s “rule-creep”: rules just keep being added and extended, so that our individual liberty is increasingly curtailed. Planning restrictions, safety regulations and risk assessments can seem to accumulate endlessly and may extend their reach far beyond any initial intention.</p> <p>Restrictions on renovating ancient buildings can be so stringent that no renovation is feasible and the buildings collapse; environmental assessments for new woodlands can be so severe that tree planting becomes almost impossible; regulations on drug discovery can be so arduous that a potentially valuable medicine is abandoned. The road to hell is not merely paved with good intentions, but edged with rules enforcing those good intentions, whatever the consequences.</p> <p>Individuals, and societies, face a continual battle over rules – and we must be cautious about their purpose. So, yes, “<a href="https://theconversation.com/why-most-people-follow-routines-101630">standing on the right</a>” on an escalator may speed up everyone’s commute to work – but be careful of conventions that have no obvious benefit to all, and especially those that discriminate, punish and condemn. The latter can become the instruments of tyranny</p> <p>Rules, like good policing, should rely on our consent. So perhaps the best advice is mostly to follow rules, but always to ask why.</p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-chater-199346"><em>Nick Chater</em></a><em>, Professor of Behavioural Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/warwick-business-school-university-of-warwick-2650">Warwick Business School, University of Warwick</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-would-happen-if-we-all-just-stopped-following-rules-128664">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How to be a healthy user of social media

<p>We can learn a lot about people through how they use social media. For example, Twitter language can be used to predict the <a href="http://newsroom.melbourne.edu/news/twitter-can-predict-hot-spots-coronary-heart-disease">risk of dying from heart disease</a>.</p> <p>Analyses of Facebook updates show <a href="https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/how-gender-shapes-our-facebook-chats">women tend to be warmer than men, but just as assertive</a>, and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24322010">people high in extraversion</a> tend to express positive emotions, whereas those with neurotic tendencies are more likely to write about being lonely and depressed.</p> <p>Concerns exist about the negative effects social media can have on mental health, <a href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/4/800.short">especially for young people</a>.</p> <p>The incidence of <a href="http://theconversation.com/online-bullying-on-the-rise-in-australia-30213">cyberbullying</a>, <a href="http://theconversation.com/how-sexting-is-creating-a-safe-space-for-curious-millennials-56453">sexting</a> and <a href="http://theconversation.com/domestic-violence-and-facebook-harassment-takes-new-forms-in-the-social-media-age-50855">victimisation</a> has risen. People manage their profiles, presenting an image of a perfect life, while hiding real struggles they might have. Despite having thousands of “friends”, some people still <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563216302552">feel completely alone</a>.</p> <p>The potential for social media to be used to detect signs of mental illness is reflected in Facebook’s implementation of a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/305410456169423">suicide watch program</a>.</p> <p><strong>What to look for in your use of social media</strong></p> <p>Is there a way to tell if your use of social media is healthy or reflective of underlying mental health conditions?</p> <p>With my colleagues, PhD student Liz Seabrook and <a href="http://med.monash.edu/psych/school/staff/rickard.html">Dr Nikki Rickard</a>, we conducted <a href="http://mental.jmir.org/2016/4/e50/">a systematic review</a> of 70 different studies that linked social media use to depression, anxiety and mental well being. Turns out, <a href="https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/is-social-media-good-for-you">social media is not all good, nor all bad</a>. It’s more about how you use it.</p> <p>If you are concerned about your own social media use or that of a family member, here are some aspects to look out for.</p> <p><strong>1. Content and tone</strong></p> <p>One of the main things that distinguished users who reported high well-being versus those with depression or anxiety was what they wrote about and how they wrote it.</p> <p>Depressed people used a lot more negative language, reflecting on things that were going wrong, or complaining about life or other people. They posted angry thoughts and emotions.</p> <p>After writing a post, take a moment to read through it. What is the tone? Consider ways you can focus on some of the good things that happen in your life, not just the negative.</p> <p><strong>2. Quality</strong></p> <p>After a conversation with a friend, sometimes I feel really good about the conversation. Other times I don’t.</p> <p>Similarly, we found the quality of interactions on social media made a big difference. Depression related to negative interactions with other people, being more critical, cutting others down or feeling criticised by others, and hostility.</p> <p>In contrast, by supporting and encouraging others and feeling supported by them, it can help you feel good.</p> <p><strong>3. Time online</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.psychology.org.au/psychologyweek/survey/results-fomo/">An Australian survey</a> found adults spend over two hours a day using social media. It also found more than 50% of young people are heavy social media users, with one quarter reporting being constantly connected.</p> <p>In our review, some studies found depressed users spent more time online while other studies were inconclusive.</p> <p>Notably, no study found spending more time online was a good thing.</p> <p>This is something to keep on the radar as people spend more and more time connected to their devices. Many young people have a <a href="http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/10/12/fear-of-missing-out/">fear of missing out (FOMO)</a>, and thus stay constantly connected. Indeed, in our review we found feeling addicted to social media was associated with higher levels of depression.</p> <p>We see growing evidence that <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gEZSD-2RIk">simplifying life</a>, including spending time offline, has health and well-being benefits.</p> <p>If you feel concerned about how much time passes by while you are online, consider stepping away from social media for a few days.</p> <p><strong>4. Passive versus active use</strong></p> <p>Some people post many updates, providing blow-by-blow descriptions of their lives. Others read through news feeds, liking posts and passing interesting tidbits on to others.</p> <p>In our review, simply reading posts and browsing news feeds did not positively or negatively impact well-being.</p> <p>The difference was for active users: those who posted their thoughts and feelings and responded to others. People who were depressed posted a lot of negative content. Those who were happy actively engaged with other users, sharing their lives.</p> <p><strong>5. Social comparisons</strong></p> <p>Social media provides opportunities to compare ourselves with others, for better or for worse.</p> <p>Social media can provide support groups that can help spur you on towards reaching a specific goal. For example, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-collinson/are-you-up-to-the-strengths-challenge_b_9096378.html">the Strengths Challenge</a> used social networks to encourage people to look for good things about themselves and their co-workers, resulting in higher levels of well-being.</p> <p>But comparing yourselves with others can also be quite destructive. Depressed individuals were more likely to see others as better than them. Envy plays a particularly destructive role.</p> <p>If you find yourself jealous of friends and others in your network, it might be a good time to disconnect and find other sources to build up your self esteem.</p> <p><strong>6. Motivation</strong></p> <p>Why do you use social media? People who used social media to connect with friends felt it contributed to their well-being.</p> <p>In contrast, those who were depressed sought out social support on social media, but felt like their friends were letting them down.</p> <p>If you are feeling lonely and trying to fill a void through social media, it could be doing more harm than good.</p> <p><strong>Take a good look at yourself</strong></p> <p>Social media is here to stay. It offers a great way to connect with others, but can also exacerbate social anxieties that exist in the offline world.</p> <p>So how do you best use social media? Take a few minutes to think about how social media makes you or your family and friends feel. Is it a positive addition to your life, or does it make you feel bad, consuming time and energy you could use in other ways?</p> <p>By taking stock of your social media habits, it can help you choose ways – and encourage others – to use it in a manner that keeps you healthy.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/70211/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peggy-kern-191569">Peggy Kern</a>, Senior Lecturer in Positive Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-melbourne-722">University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-be-a-healthy-user-of-social-media-70211">original article</a>.</em></p>

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4 signs you have high emotional intelligence

<p>Emotional intelligence can mean the difference between behaving in a socially acceptable way and being considered to be way out of line. While most people will have heard of emotional intelligence, not many people really know how to spot it – in themselves or in others.</p> <p>Emotional intelligence is essentially the way you perceive, understand, express, and manage emotions. And it’s important because the more you understand these aspects of yourself, the better your mental health and social behaviour will be.</p> <p>It might be these are things you do without even really thinking – which can be the case for a lot of people. Or it might be that these are skills you know you need to work on.</p> <p>Either way, improved emotional intelligence can be very useful in all sorts of circumstances – be it in work, at home, in school, or even when you’re just socialising with your friends.</p> <p>So if you want to know if you’re emotionally intelligent, simply check the list below.</p> <p><strong>1. You think about your reactions</strong></p> <p>Emotional intelligence can mean the difference between a good reaction and a bad reaction to circumstances. Emotions can contain important information that can be useful to personal and social functioning – but sometimes these emotions can also overwhelm us, and make us act in ways we would rather not.</p> <p>People who lack emotional intelligence are more likely to just react, without giving themselves the time to weigh up the pros and cons of a situation and really thinking things through.</p> <p>People who are less able to regulate their negative feelings are also more likely to have difficulty functioning socially – which can exacerbate depressive feelings.</p> <p>People with <a href="https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm">major depression</a> have been shown to have <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1754073916650494">difficulties</a> understanding and managing their emotions. And research has also shown that more depressive symptoms are present in people with lower emotional intelligence – even if they are not clinically depressed.</p> <p><strong>2. You see situations as a challenge</strong></p> <p>If you are able to recognise negative emotions in yourself and see difficult <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1754073916650497">situations as a challenge</a> – focusing on the positives and persevering – chances are that you’ve got high emotional intelligence.</p> <p>Imagine for a moment you lost your job. An emotionally intelligent person might perceive their emotions as cues to take action, both to deal with the challenges and to control their thoughts and feelings.</p> <p>But someone with poor emotional skills might <a href="http://www.apa.org/monitor/nov05/cycle.aspx">ruminate</a> on their job loss, come to think of themselves as hopelessly unemployable, and spiral into depression.</p> <p><strong>3. You can modify your emotions</strong></p> <p>Of course, there are times when your feelings can get the better of you, but if you are an emotionally intelligent person, it is likely that when this happens you have the skills needed to modify your emotions.</p> <p>For example, while average levels of anxiety can improve cognitive performance – probably by increasing focus and motivation – too much anxiety can block cognitive achievement.</p> <p>So knowing how to find the sweet spot, between too much and too little anxiety, can be a useful tool.</p> <p>It is clear that <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-brain-and-emotional-intelligence/201203/the-sweet-spot-achievement">moderation</a> is the key when it comes to managing our emotions. Emotionally intelligent people know this and have the skills to modify their emotions appropriately.</p> <p>And this is probably why emotional intelligence has been shown to be <a href="http://emotional.intelligence.uma.es/documentos/pdf60among_adolescents.pdf">related</a> to lower levels of anxiety.</p> <p><strong>4. You can put yourself in other people’s shoes</strong></p> <p>If you are able to extend these skills beyond your own personal functioning, then that’s another sign that you have high levels of emotional intelligence.</p> <p>Emotional intelligence can be particularly important in workplaces that require heavy “<a href="https://hbr.org/2016/09/managing-the-hidden-stress-of-emotional-labor">emotional labour</a>” – where workers must manage their emotions according to organisational rules.</p> <p>This can include customer service jobs, where workers may need to sympathise with customers – despite the fact that customers may be yelling at them.</p> <p>This is why workplace emotional intelligence training is now common – with the <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1754073916650496">most effective training</a> focusing on management and expression of emotions, which are directly linked to communication and job performance.</p> <p>It’s also worth pointing out that emotional intelligence is a cognitive ability that can improve across your <a href="http://www.livescience.com/37134-emotional-intelligence-improve-aging.html">lifespan</a>. So if you haven’t recognised much of yourself in the traits listed above, fear not, there’s still time for you to work on your emotional intelligence.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/71165/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jose-m-mestre-286147">Jose M. Mestre</a>, Professor of Emotion and Motivation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universidad-de-cadiz-2934">Universidad de Cádiz</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kimberly-a-barchard-285790">Kimberly A. Barchard</a>, Associate Professor in Quantitative Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-nevada-las-vegas-826">University of Nevada, Las Vegas</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/four-signs-you-have-high-emotional-intelligence-71165">original article</a>.</em></p>

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6 things you can do to reduce your risk of dementia

<p>An ageing population is leading to a growing number of people living with dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms including memory impairment, confusion, and loss of ability to carry out everyday activities.</p> <p>Alzheimer’s disease is the <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/about-dementia/types-of-dementia/alzheimers-disease">most common</a> form of dementia, and causes a progressive decline in brain health.</p> <p>Dementia affects <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/statistics">more than 425,000 Australians</a>. It is the second-ranked <a href="http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0%7E2016%7EMain%20Features%7EAustralia's%20leading%20causes%20of%20death,%202016%7E3">cause of death</a> overall, and the leading cause in women.</p> <p>The main risk factor for dementia is older age. Around <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/statistics">30% of people aged over 85</a> live with dementia. Genetic influences also <a href="http://science.sciencemag.org/content/261/5123/921.long">play a role</a> in the onset of the disease, but these are stronger for rarer types of dementia such as <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/expert-reviews-in-molecular-medicine/article/presenilininteracting-proteins/18AE48632AC07669FF98F9D5069D8C68">early-onset Alzheimer’s disease</a>.</p> <p>Although we can’t change our age or genetic profile, there are nevertheless several lifestyle changes we can make that will reduce our dementia risk.</p> <p><strong>1. Engage in mentally stimulating activities</strong></p> <p>Education is an important determinant of dementia risk. Having less than <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1474442206705373">ten years of formal education</a> can increase the chances of developing dementia. People <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)31363-6/fulltext">who don’t complete</a> any secondary school have the greatest risk.</p> <p>The good news is that we can still strengthen our brain at any age, through workplace achievement and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3025284/">leisure activities</a> such as reading newspapers, playing card games, or learning a new language or skill.</p> <p>The evidence suggests that <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4055506/">group-based training</a> for memory and problem-solving strategies could improve long-term cognitive function. But this evidence can’t be generalised to computerised “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK436397/">brain training</a>” programs. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities in a social setting may also contribute to the success of cognitive training.</p> <p><strong>2. Maintain social contact</strong></p> <p>More frequent <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S156816371500046X">social contact</a> (such as visiting friends and relatives or talking on the phone) has been linked to lower risk of dementia, while loneliness may increase it.</p> <p>Greater involvement in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3025284/">group or community activities</a> is associated with a lower risk. Interestingly, size of friendship group appears <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S156816371500046X">less relevant</a> than having regular contact with others.</p> <p><strong>3. Manage weight and heart health</strong></p> <p>There is a strong link between heart and brain health. High blood pressure and obesity, particularly during mid-life, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3647614/">increase the risk</a> of dementia. Combined, these conditions may contribute to <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(11)70072-2/fulltext">more than 12%</a> of dementia cases.</p> <p>In an analysis of data from more than 40,000 people, those who had <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22372522">type 2 diabetes</a> were up to twice as likely to develop dementia as healthy people.</p> <p>Managing or reversing these conditions through the use of medication and/or diet and exercise is crucial to reducing dementia risk.</p> <p><strong>4. Get more exercise</strong></p> <p>Physical activity has been shown to protect against <a href="https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/report.aspx">cognitive decline</a>. In data combined from more than 33,000 people, those who were highly physically active had a <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02281.x">38% lower</a> risk of cognitive decline compared with those who were inactive.</p> <p>Precisely how much exercise is enough to maintain cognition is still <a href="http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/8/636">under debate</a>. But a <a href="http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/3/154.long">recent review</a> of studies looking at the effects of taking exercise for a minimum of four weeks suggested that sessions should last at least 45 minutes and be of moderate to high intensity. This means huffing and puffing and finding it difficult to maintain a conversation.</p> <p>Australians generally don’t meet the target of <a href="http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#apaadult">150 minutes</a> of physical activity per week.</p> <p><strong>5. Don’t smoke</strong></p> <p>Cigarette smoking is harmful to heart health, and the chemicals found in cigarettes trigger inflammation and vascular changes in the brain. They can also <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11065-007-9035-9">trigger oxidative stress</a>, in which chemicals called free radicals can cause damage to our cells. These processes may contribute to the <a href="http://www.alzheimersanddementia.com/article/S1552-5260(14)00137-X/fulltext">development of dementia</a>.</p> <p>The good news is that smoking rates in Australia have dropped from <a href="http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbyCatalogue/E6DE72422D16BBB4CA258130001536C2?OpenDocument">28% to 16%</a> since 2001.</p> <p>As dementia risk is <a href="https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/166/4/367/96440">higher in current smokers</a> compared with past smokers and non-smokers, this provides yet another incentive to quit once and for all.</p> <p><strong>6. Seek help for depression</strong></p> <p>Around one million Australian adults are currently living with <a href="http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4326.0">depression</a>. In depression, some changes <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrneurol.2011.60">occur in the brain</a> that may affect dementia risk. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been linked to shrinkage of brain regions that are important for memory.</p> <p>Vascular disease, which causes damage to blood vessels, has also been observed in both depression and dementia. Researchers suggests that long-term oxidative stress and inflammation may also contribute to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584616300070">both conditions</a>.</p> <p>A <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2627700?redirect=true">28-year study</a> of more than 10,000 people found that dementia risk was only increased in those who had depression in the ten years before diagnosis. One possibility is that late-life depression can reflect an early symptom of dementia.</p> <p>Other studies <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22566581">have shown</a> that having depression before the age of 60 still increases dementia risk, so seeking treatment for depression is encouraged.</p> <p><strong>Other things to consider</strong></p> <p>Reducing dementia risk factors doesn’t guarantee that you will never develop dementia. But it does mean that, at a population level, fewer people will be affected. Recent estimates <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)31363-6/fulltext">suggest that up to 35%</a> of all dementia cases may be due to the risk factors outlined above.</p> <p>This figure also includes management of hearing loss, although the <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/2665726">evidence</a> for this is less well established.</p> <p>The contribution of <a href="http://n.neurology.org/content/89/12/1244">sleep disturbances</a> and <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)31363-6/fulltext">diet</a> to dementia risk are emerging as important, and will likely receive more consideration as the evidence base grows.</p> <p>Even though dementia may be seen as an older person’s disease, harmful processes can occur in the brain for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235287371500013X">several decades</a> before dementia appears. This means that <em>now</em> is the best time to take action to reduce your risk.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/93061/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helen-macpherson-368542">Helen Macpherson</a>, Research Fellow, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-things-you-can-do-to-reduce-your-risk-of-dementia-93061">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Your brain on sugar: What the science actually says

<p>We love sweet treats. But too much sugar in our diets can lead to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-sugar-make-you-fat">weight gain and obesity</a>, <a href="https://www.diabetes.ca/recently-diagnosed/type-2-toolkit">Type 2 diabetes</a> and <a href="http://www.actiononsugar.org/sugar-and-health/sugars-and-tooth-decay/">dental decay</a>. We know we shouldn’t be eating candy, ice cream, cookies, cakes and drinking sugary sodas, but sometimes they are so hard to resist.</p> <p>It’s as if our brain is hardwired to want these foods.</p> <p>As a neuroscientist my research centres on how <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-the-food-industry-conspiring-to-make-you-fat-81537">modern day “obesogenic,” or obesity-promoting, diets</a> change the brain. I want to understand how what we eat alters our behaviour and whether brain changes can be mitigated by other lifestyle factors.</p> <p>Your body runs on sugar — glucose to be precise. Glucose comes from the Greek word <em>glukos</em> which means sweet. Glucose fuels the cells that make up our body — <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-neuron-2794890">including brain cells (neurons)</a>.</p> <p><strong>Dopamine “hits” from eating sugar</strong></p> <p>On an evolutionary basis, our primitive ancestors were scavengers. Sugary foods are excellent sources of energy, so we have evolved to find sweet foods particularly pleasurable. Foods with unpleasant, bitter and sour tastes can be unripe, poisonous or rotting — causing sickness.</p> <p>So to maximize our survival as a species, we have an innate brain system that makes us like sweet foods since they’re a great source of energy to fuel our bodies.</p> <p>When we eat sweet foods the brain’s reward system — called the <a href="https://www.neuroscientificallychallenged.com/glossary/mesolimbic-pathway">mesolimbic dopamine system</a> — gets activated. <a href="https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/explainer-what-dopamine">Dopamine</a> is a brain chemical released by neurons and can signal that an event was positive. When the reward system fires, it reinforces behaviours — making it more likely for us to carry out these actions again.</p> <p>Dopamine “hits” from eating sugar promote rapid learning to preferentially find more of these foods.</p> <p>Our environment today is abundant with sweet, energy rich foods. We no longer have to forage for these special sugary foods — they are available everywhere. Unfortunately, our brain is still functionally very similar to our ancestors, and it really likes sugar. So what happens in the brain when we excessively consume sugar?</p> <p><strong>Can sugar rewire the brain?</strong></p> <p>The brain continuously <a href="https://brainworksneurotherapy.com/what-neuroplasticity">remodels and rewires itself through a process called neuroplasticity</a>. This rewiring can happen in the reward system. Repeated activation of the reward pathway by drugs or by eating lots of sugary foods causes the brain to adapt to frequent stimulation, leading to a sort of tolerance.</p> <p>In the case of sweet foods, this means we need to eat more to get the same rewarding feeling — a classic feature of addiction.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/fact-or-fiction-is-sugar-addictive-73340">Food addiction</a> is a controversial subject among scientists and clinicians. While it is true that you can become physically dependent on certain drugs, it is debated whether you can be <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.08.016">addicted to food</a> when you need it for basic survival.</p> <p><strong>The brain wants sugar, then more sugar</strong></p> <p>Regardless of our need for food to power our bodies, many people experience food cravings, particularly when stressed, hungry or just faced with an alluring display of cakes in a coffee shop.</p> <p>To resist cravings, we need to inhibit our natural response to indulge in these tasty foods. A network of inhibitory neurons is critical for controlling behaviour. These <a href="https://www.neuroscientificallychallenged.com/blog/2014/5/16/know-your-brain-prefrontal-cortex">neurons are concentrated in the prefrontal cortex</a> — a key area of the brain involved in decision-making, impulse control and delaying gratification.</p> <p>Inhibitory neurons are like the brain’s brakes and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/gamma-aminobutyric-acid">release the chemical GABA</a>. Research in rats has shown that <a href="http://www.learnmem.org/cgi/doi/10.1101/lm.038000.114">eating high-sugar diets can alter the inhibitory neurons</a>. The sugar-fed rats were also less able to control their behaviour and make decisions.</p> <p>Importantly, this shows that what we eat can influence our ability to resist temptations and may underlie why diet changes are so difficult for people.</p> <p>A recent study asked people to rate <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.10.007">how much they wanted to eat high-calorie snack foods when they were feeling hungry</a> versus when they had recently eaten. The people who regularly ate a high-fat, high-sugar diet rated their cravings for snack foods higher even when they weren’t hungry.</p> <p>This suggests that regularly eating high-sugar foods could amplify cravings — creating a vicious circle of wanting more and more of these foods.</p> <p><strong>Sugar can disrupt memory formation</strong></p> <p>Another brain area affected by high sugar diets is the <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313295.php">hippocampus</a> — a key memory centre.</p> <p>Research shows that rats eating high-sugar diets were <a href="http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/23/7/386.full.html">less able to remember</a> whether they had previously seen objects in specific locations before.</p> <p>The sugar-induced changes in the hippocampus were both a <a href="https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain-basics/brain-physiology/what-neurogenesis">reduction of newborn neurons</a>, which are vital for encoding memories, and an <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2013.11.016">increase in chemicals linked to inflammation</a>.</p> <p><strong>How to protect your brain from sugar?</strong></p> <p>The World Health Organization advises that we limit our intake of added sugars to <a href="https://www.ages.at/en/topics/nutrition/who-sugar-recommendations/">five per cent of our daily calorie intake</a>, which is 25g (six teaspoons).</p> <p>Importantly, the brain’s neuroplasticity capabilities allow it to reset to an extent following cutting down on dietary sugar, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nlm.2016.03.002">physical exercise can augment this process</a>. Foods rich in omaga-3 fats (found in fish oil, nuts and seeds) are also neuroprotective and can boost brain chemicals needed to form new neurons.</p> <p>While it’s not easy to break habits like always eating dessert or making your coffee a double-double, your brain will thank you for making positive steps.</p> <p>The first step is often the hardest. These diet changes can often get easier along the way.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-reichelt-13667">Amy Reichelt</a>, BrainsCAN Research Associate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-university-882">Western University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/your-brain-on-sugar-what-the-science-actually-says-126581">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Are firstborns really natural leaders?

<p>Everybody knows that firstborns are natural leaders, middle children are rebels and the baby of the family is spoiled yet confident. At least, that’s what received wisdom tells us. But is any of it true? And where did this idea come from in the first place?</p> <p>In the 1930s the Austrian psychotherapist Alfred Adler was the <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jason_Kaufman3/publication/282442353_The_Role_of_Birth_Order_in_Personality_An_Enduring_Intellectual_Legacy_of_Alfred_Adler/links/56a10ebb08ae24f62701e979/The-Role-of-Birth-Order-in-Personality-An-Enduring-Intellectual-Legacy-of-Alfred-Adler.pdf">first to study birth order</a> and its effect on personality. He believed that “every difficulty of development is caused by rivalry and lack of cooperation in the family”.</p> <p>According to Adler, an only child never has to compete for their parents’ attention and is never “replaced” by other siblings. Similarly, the oldest child receives most of the parents’ attention and is likely to feel responsible towards their younger siblings, which is reflected in their perfectionism, hard-working attitude and conscientiousness.</p> <p>A second-born child is constantly competing with their older sibling and trying to catch up with them. Middle children are caught between their older and younger siblings, who may often leave them out or gang-up on them. As a result, the middle child may become easily angered and sensitive to criticism.</p> <p>The youngest child is often the most pampered in the family. They depend on their family more than any other siblings and may demand that everything is done for them. In the opposite case, they may feel unwanted, disliked or even ignored.</p> <p>Adding a child to the family has an impact on how a family operates. But Adler suggested that other factors play a role, too, such as family size, health, age, culture or the child’s sex.</p> <p>Adler’s theories continue to hold sway and birth order is still an important area of study in psychology. And the role of firstborn holds a particular fascination.</p> <p><strong>The firstborn effect</strong></p> <p>According to a <a href="https://www.nber.org/papers/w23393">recent Swedish study</a>, firstborns have more favourable personality traits, including openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, extroversion, friendliness and greater emotional stability, than their later-born siblings. As a result, they are more likely to become chief executives and senior managers, whereas later-born children, who love to take risks, often end up being self-employed.</p> <p>Firstborns tend to possess psychological characteristics related to leadership, including responsibility, creativity, obedience and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886905003314">dominance</a>. They are also more likely to have higher academic abilities and levels of intelligence than their younger siblings. These qualities are believed to make firstborns more successful. But the “baby” of the family is <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224540009600502">more likely</a> to take risks, rebel, show addictive behaviour and lack independence compared with their older siblings.</p> <p>There are two explanations that could justify this firstborn effect. From the evolutionary perspective, parents favour and invest (shelter and food) in their firstborn to increase their chances of survival and reproduction. But this comes at a cost because the parent is now unable to invest the same amount of resources in later-born offspring.</p> <p>Younger siblings then have to compete for these limited parental resources and attention. (So parents who spend less time helping their later-born children with schoolwork may do so because of the lack of spare resources.)</p> <p>But children who are born last often receive preferential treatment. This is because parents now have the last chance to invest their resources. They are also older and tend to have more money at this point. Parents are more likely to invest in the education <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313072471_Birth_Order_and_Parental_Investment">of their latest-born offspring</a>.</p> <p>Parental expectations could also explain the more favourable personality traits among firstborns. That is, parents tend to be stricter in their parenting with the firstborn. Parents also encourage toughness because firstborns need to act as role models (and surrogate parent) for their later-born siblings and defend the values of the parents.</p> <p>Firstborns must keep their “first” position and never fall behind the younger sibling. The rivalry and conflict between firstborn and later-born offspring is the result of the younger sibling’s need to establish their position in the family. Although they try to race and copy the role of their older firstborn sibling, this privileged position is already taken. Laterborns must also differentiate themselves to attract parental resources, which could explain their rebellious behaviour.</p> <p><strong>Mixed evidence</strong></p> <p>These explanations are sound, but the evidence to support the link between personality traits and birth order is mixed. Some studies show a strong association between <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886913012142">leadership abilities and birth order</a>, but others <a href="https://articlegateway.com/index.php/JOP/article/view/1094">do not support these findings</a>.</p> <p>The inconsistencies in findings may stem from factors that are sometimes neglected, such as the sex of the siblings. The firstborn effect (and the chances of becoming a chief executive) is weaker in the case of later-born males with older brothers as opposed to those who have <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/0162-895X.00343">older sisters</a>.</p> <p>Age gap spacing also needs to be taken into account because larger age gaps between siblings result in a more nurturing surrogate parent role of the older sibling and reduces the <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9780203837962">rivalry conflict between the siblings</a>.</p> <p>The fertility age of the mother could also sway the personality outcomes because mothers who have later-born children are older than when they had their firstborn and many studies don’t control for this factor.</p> <p>It appears that the psychological profiles of firstborns may have been over-generalised.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/126215/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/klara-sabolova-875126">Klara Sabolova</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-wales-1586">University of South Wales</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/are-firstborns-really-natural-leaders-126215">original article</a>.</em></p>

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What does it mean to ‘gamble responsibly’?

<p>Advertisements for gambling and online betting tell us to “gamble responsibly”. But what does this mean in reality? And how can you gamble responsibly online when another bet is just a click or swipe away?</p> <p><a href="https://aifs.gov.au/agrc/publications/gambling-activity-australia/1-introduction">A total of 64%</a> of Australian adults gamble at least once a year, with <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/agrc/publications/gambling-activity-australia/2-gambling-participation">one third</a> of gamblers participating in multiple forms of gambling. <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/agrc/publications/gambling-activity-australia/2-gambling-participation">Lottery is the most common form of gambling</a> among those who gamble regularly (76%), followed by instant scratch tickets (22%) and electronic gaming machines (or “pokies”, almost 21%).</p> <p><a href="http://www.problemgambling.net.au/ausgambling.html">Up to 160,000 Australians</a> experience significant problems from gambling, and up to a further 350,000 experience moderate risks that make them vulnerable to developing a gambling problem.</p> <p>In about the past 15 years, there’s been a <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/insight/tvepisode/online-gambling">rise in online gambling</a>. While rates of online gambling for Australians <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/agrc/publications/gambling-activity-australia">are low</a> compared to traditional forms of gambling, participation in online gambling appears to be increasing rapidly.</p> <p><a href="https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/online-gambling-market">If this continues</a>, online gambling may soon replace traditional, in-venue gambling, particularly for young people.</p> <p><a href="https://responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/resources/publications/gen-bet-has-gambling-gatecrashed-our-teens-16/">About one young person</a> in every 25 has a problem with gambling, which is an average of one in every high school classroom. Up to one in five bet on sports matches <a href="https://responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/resources/publications/gen-bet-has-gambling-gatecrashed-our-teens-16/">and</a> one in ten gamble online.</p> <p><strong>Young people exposed to gambling when watching sport</strong></p> <p>Advertisements for gambling and online betting are particularly common in Australian sport. While there has been a <a href="https://adstandards.com.au/issues/gambling-advertising">recent shift to regulate</a> when and how gambling is advertised during sporting matches, there is still a heavy presence.</p> <p>In fact, three in four children aged eight to 16 who watch sports <a href="https://responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/reducing-harm/parents/teenagers-and-gambling/">can name at least one</a> betting company.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9DnC2DF1SSM?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">The campaign ‘Love the Game, not the Odds’ aims to disrupt the idea that gambling is a normal part of sport.</span></p> <p>The public health campaign, “<a href="https://responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/reducing-harm/love-the-game-program/">Love the Game, Not the Odds</a>”, was released addressing the issue of reducing the exposure of young people to sport betting.</p> <p>It aims to disrupt the notion that gambling is a normal part of sport and being a spectator. And it aims to help start and facilitate conversations with children and adolescents about gambling not needing to be an integral part of gaming.</p> <p><strong>How to ‘gamble responsibly’?</strong></p> <p>The phrase “gamble responsibly” on advertisements and websites was used for years before researchers and public health advocates looked at the types of behaviours that underpin it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Bpj46f2Z9BA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">This video from Ladbrokes tells us to ‘gamble responsibly’, but what does this mean in practice?</span></p> <p>Responsible gambling is <a href="https://responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/resources/publications/behavioural-indicators-of-responsible-gambling-consumption-64/">defined</a> as:</p> <blockquote> <p>Exercising control and informed choice to ensure that gambling is kept within affordable limits of money and time, is enjoyable, in balance with other activities and responsibilities, and avoids gambling-related harm.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ways of achieving this <a href="https://responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au/resources/publications/behavioural-indicators-of-responsible-gambling-consumption-64/">include</a>:</p> <ul> <li>ensuring gambling is affordable by not gambling with money needed for necessities (such as bills or food)</li> <li>ensuring gambling doesn’t dominate your leisure time, and you are engaging in other social and leisure activities</li> <li>avoiding borrowing money or using a credit card to gamble</li> <li>avoiding gambling when under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, or as a way to manage emotions when you are bored, depressed or anxious</li> <li>setting limits around how much and long you with gamble for, setting a limit on your maximum bet size, and avoiding increasing bets when winning or losing.</li> </ul> <p>Additional tips for people gambling online include:</p> <ul> <li>setting limits on how much you can gamble by only using websites with a daily limit spend</li> <li>avoiding having multiple online gambling accounts.</li> </ul> <p><strong>How do I know if I have a gambling problem?</strong></p> <p>There are clear signs when gambling moves from being a hobby to becoming a mental health concern. <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/gambling-disorder/what-is-gambling-disorder">These include</a>:</p> <ul> <li>needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve the desired excitement</li> <li>feeling restless or irritable when trying to stop gambling</li> <li>trying to stop or cut back gambling unsuccessfully</li> <li>spending a lot of time thinking about gambling</li> <li>gambling when you’re feeling anxious or upset</li> <li>chasing losses (by trying to make up losses with more gambling)</li> <li>lying to others to conceal the extent of your gambling</li> <li>relying on others for money</li> <li>jeopardising relationships, job or opportunities because of gambling.</li> </ul> <p>If you are concerned about your gambling, seek professional help and exclude yourself from gambling venues and websites.</p> <p>In practice, for online gambling, this might mean disabling automatic logins and deleting accounts.</p> <p><em>If this article raises concerns for you or someone you know, gambling support is available via <a href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/problem-gambling">Lifeline</a> (13 11 14), or via <a href="https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/">Gambling Help Online</a>, which lists services in your <a href="https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/services-in-your-state">state or territory</a>.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/130949/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anastasia-hronis-811811">Anastasia Hronis</a>, Clinical Psychologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-told-to-gamble-responsibly-but-what-does-that-actually-mean-130949">original article</a>.</em></p>

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