Recent quotes:

autonomy, competence and connection

Kennon Sheldon, a psychology professor at the University of Missouri and author of Optimal Human Being, says we’ll be happiest if they meet our primary psychological needs: autonomy, or, as Sheldon says, “doing what you want to be doing and believe in doing”; competence, or “doing something well and/or seeing improvement”; and relatedness, like “connecting to others, immersing in a community, or contributing something to the world.”

Loneliness actually hurts us on a cellular level - Vox

In 2007, Cole and a team of researchers at UCLA make a breakthrough in a small 14-participant study. The very cells of people who lived through periods of chronic loneliness looked different. More specifically, the white blood cells of people who suffered through chronic loneliness appeared to be stuck in a state of fear. Cole and his colleagues observed two main genetic differences between lonely and non-lonely people. 1) Genes that code for the body’s inflammation response are turned on to a degree not seen in non-lonely participants. “There is a huge hidden epidemic of loneliness, and disenfranchisement from the human race” Which isn’t good. “Inflammation is great at responding to acute injury, but if you have inflammation going chronically, it serves as a fertilizer for chronic diseases like atherosclerosis and cardio vascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and metastatic cancer,” he says. “That provides one reasonable biological explanation for why they might be at an increased risk for these diseases.” 2) “At the same time, in almost like a teeter-totter regulatory dynamic, we see down-regulated, or suppressed activity, in a block of genes involved in fending off against viral infections.” Those genes code for proteins known as type-1 interferons, which direct the immune system to kill viruses. This is a bit of a head-scratcher. Increasing the body’s inflammation response in the face of stress makes sense. It’s protective in the short term. But why would our bodies become less willing to attack viruses?

Online Friendships Can't Replace In-Person Connection -- Science of Us

In researching his book Tribe, Sebastian Junger found that “lack of social support is twice as reliable at predicting PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder] as the severity of the trauma [one experiences] itself.”

Fragmented discourse, in commercial speech too.

While his team at Giles-Parscale designed the ads, Parscale invited a variety of companies to set up shop in San Antonio to help determine which social media ads were most effective. Those companies test ad variations against one another—the campaign has ultimately generated 100,000 distinct pieces of creative content—and then roll out the strongest performers to broader audiences. At the same time, Parscale made the vendors, tech companies with names such as Sprinklr and Kenshoo, compete Apprentice-style; those whose algorithms fared worst in drumming up donors lost their contracts. Each time Parscale returned to San Antonio from Trump Tower, he would find that some vendors had been booted from their offices.

The secrets of the world's happiest cities | Society | The Guardian

Researchers for Hewlett-Packard convinced volunteers in England to wear electrode caps during their commutes and found that whether they were driving or taking the train, peak-hour travellers suffered worse stress than fighter pilots or riot police facing mobs of angry protesters. But one group of commuters report enjoying themselves. These are people who travel under their own steam, like Robert Judge. They walk. They run. They ride bicycles.

How Your Social Life Changes Your Microbiome

During seasons when the chimps were more sociable, their microbiomes started to converge. And the most sociable individuals, those who spent most time grooming, touching, or otherwise hanging out with their peers, had the richest diversity of species in their guts.

Animal culture

In “The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins”, Hal Whitehead of Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, and Luke Rendell of the University of St Andrews, in Scotland, argue that all cultures have five distinctive features: a characteristic technology; teaching and learning; a moral component, with rules that buttress “the way we do things” and punishments for infraction; an acquired, not innate, distinction between insiders and outsiders; and a cumulative character that builds up over time. These attributes together allow individuals in a group to do things that they would not be able to achieve by themselves.

Facebook as mirror

They found that people who perceive Facebook as helpful in gaining a better understanding of themselves go to the site to meet new people and to get attention from others. Also, people who use Facebook to gain a deeper understanding of themselves tend to have agreeable personalities, but lower self-esteem than others. "They might post that they went to the gym. Maybe they'll share a post expressing a certain political stance or personal challenge they're facing. They rely on feedback from Facebook friends to better understand themselves," Ferris says. Ferris explains that some users observe how others cope with problems and situations similar to their own "and get ideas on how to approach others in important and difficult situations."

Single course of antibiotics can mess up the gut microbiome for a year | Ars Technica

Gut microbial diversity was significantly altered by all four kinds of antibiotics, which lasted for months. In participants that took ciprofloxacin, microbial diversity was altered for up to 12 months. The antibiotic treatments also caused a spike in genes associated with antibiotic resistance. Lastly, the researchers noted that clindamycin killed off microbes that produce butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that inhibit inflammation, carcinogenesis, and oxidative stress in the gut.

Dress for communications

In an experiment, Professor Sanchez-Burks randomly assigned people to dress and act professionally or casually, and then tracked their mimicry of a specific interpersonal cue. When Protestant men dressed professionally and solved a business case, they mimicked this social cue at half the rate of those who wore Hawaiian garb and generated vacation ideas. The attire and task had no impact on women and non-Protestant men: They caught the cues regardless of what they were wearing and doing.

Social tool box improves autistic social responsiveness

In the study, 22 people aged 18 to 24 and their caregivers were randomly assigned either to receive the PEERS treatment or to be part of a control group in which treatment was delayed. Those in the PEERS group received training on social etiquette related to conversational skills, humor, electronic communication, identifying sources of friends, entering and exiting conversations, organizing successful get-togethers, and handling peer conflict and peer rejection. The young adults in the PEERS group also received four sessions on dating etiquette. The PEERS approach teaches skills using concrete rules and steps of social behavior via lessons, role-play demonstrations, behavioral rehearsal exercises and assignments to practice the skills in natural social settings. Caregivers (including parents and other family members, job and life coaches, and peer mentors) are also provided tips to help participants use their skills in the real world. Among members of the PEERS group, social skills, frequency of social engagement and social skills knowledge improved significantly, and autism symptoms related to social responsiveness diminished. In addition, 16 weeks after the treatment ended, most of the gains were still evident, and the researchers observed new improvements in social communication, assertion, responsibility and empathy -- a result the scientists attributed to the involvement of caregivers as social coaches.

Run better with friends

This positive peer pressure even works on a subconscious level—thanks to a concept called "social facilitation," says Cindra Kamphoff, Ph.D., a sports psychology consultant at Your Runner's Edge. It was first discovered with cyclists—they had faster times when racing against someone else versus doing a time trial on their own. The same holds true with runners. "When you run with others, you tend to give more effort," she says. "You get caught up in the pace, and you might not recognize how fast you're going."