Month: November 2020

Valamar Riviera procures electricity exclusively from renewable sources

first_imgA round table organized by the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development (HR PSOR) was held at the Journalists’ House in Zagreb on the topic “Green energy trading as a mechanism to encourage the construction of renewable energy sources.” Representatives of Valamar Riviera, which was recently admitted to the membership of HR PSOR, also participated in the expert panel, and on this occasion they presented their experiences in the field of sustainable business and use of energy from renewable sources.It is commendable that Valamar from 01.01.2016. procures exclusively electricity from renewable sources. Valamar Riviera will annually reduce CO emissions related to the use of green electricity2 by as much as 60 percent, which is in line with the company’s long-term sustainable development strategy.”U In the last three years, Valamar Riviera has invested more than HRK 12 million in energy efficiency projects, and we are obliged to introduce advanced high-efficiency technologies in terms of environmental protection in the reconstruction of facilities. Tourism, as well as society as a whole, is not sustainable in the long run without the development and investment in renewable energy sources and other systematic environmental protection measures. Valamar already operates in accordance certified Environmental Management System, and this year we are preparing for the certification of the Energy Management System according to the ISO 50001 standard and the EU Ecolabel”, Said Oliver Brajković, Head of Audit and Standardization.Sustainable development is possible only by creating a stimulating and innovative environment that will constantly improve our relationship with the environment. Green energy trading is an important contribution to the development of such a stimulating environment because it provides support to producers to invest in the development of renewable energy sources, and companies that have recognized and supported this mechanism by purchasing green certificates, are leaders in sustainable development in Croatia.”, Said Mirjana Matešić, director of HR PSOR.Through the Zagreb Stock Exchange, Valamar Riviera announced that it has concluded a loan agreement with HBOR worth EUR 24,3 million, with which it will invest in improving quality standards in the destinations of Poreč, Rabac, Krk and Dubrovnik. It is certainly commendable that key players in the tourism sector, such as Valamar Riviera, are investing in green energy and renewables. In addition to protecting the environment, investing in green energy creates added value for the company as well as multiple financial savings. We all live from the same product – tourism, and the first prerequisite is to take care of our ecological footprint and sustainable development. “last_img read more

Bullying leads to depression and suicidal thoughts in teens

first_imgShare on Facebook LinkedIn Pinterest A Look at Depression and SuicideIn a study on bullying based on the CDC’s survey of high school students in the United States, Dr. Adesman’s team reports that depression and suicide are much more common in teens who have been the victim of bullying in school and/or electronically. Moreover, these risks were additive among teens who were the victim of both forms of bullying. Their study, “Relative Risks of Depression and Suicidal Tendency among Victims of School- and Electronic-Bullying with Co-Risk Factors”, presents results from the first national analysis comparing risks associated with the different forms of bullying.“Although cyber bullying may not pose the same physical threat that face-to-face bullying does, it can be far more hurtful since it can spread like wildfire throughout a student body and take on a life of its own,” Dr. Adesman said.Tammy Pham, the principal investigator, said it was very important to create more effective strategies to prevent bullying in all forms.” “Students need to feel safe both in and outside of school,” she said. “More needs to be done to reduce bullying and the huge toll it takes on youth.”Ms. Pham will present “Relative Risks of Depression and Suicidal Tendency among Victims of School- and Electronic-Bullying With Co-Risk Factors” as a platform presentation on Monday, April 27, at 12pm in Room 28D at the Convention Center.Bullying Impacts School Attendance, Weapon CarryingIn a second study of bullying, “Victimization of High School Students: Impact on School Attendance and Weapon Carrying Behaviors”, the investigators found that bullying, physical dating violence and/or sexual dating violence were each associated with teens not attending school or carrying weapons to school.“Tragically, teens who were victimized in more than one way were especially likely to carry a weapon to school or skip school altogether,” said Dr. Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY.Alexis Tchaconas, the principal investigator of this study, said that bullying and dating violence were more common than many might expect.”The CDC reports that 11 percent of high school students experience dating violence, and 20 percent report being bullied,” she said. “Greater prevention efforts are needed to protect the mental health and physical well-being of our teens”.“Victimization of High School Students: Impact on School Attendance and Weapon Carrying Behaviors” will be a poster presentation on Monday, April 27th from 4:15 -7:30 PM. It is in poster session No. 3906 in Exhibit Hall EFG at the Convention Center.Who’s Carrying Weapons to School?The third study focused on teens who were victims of bullying in the past 12 months and investigated whether there are gender differences in the association of carrying a weapon to school.On the one hand, boys were overall more likely to carry a weapon to school than girls, regardless of victim status. On the other hand, girls who were the victims of bullying were more than three times as likely to carry a weapon as girls who were not victimized; by contrast, male victims were less than twice as likely to carry a weapon compared to male non-victims.“The prevalence of school bullying has serious implications for the safety of all students — both the victims of bullying and the non-victims,” said Ms. Pham, the principal investigator of this study.“Girls who have been victimized are much more likely to carry a weapon; unfortunately, the CDC data does not tell us if this is for their own protection or to seek revenge,” said Dr. Adesman, the senior investigator. “Effective strategies need to be developed to eliminate bullying if we want our teens to be safe and enjoy their adolescence.”“Gender Differences in Risk of Weapon-Carrying By Adolescents Who Are Victims of Bullying” will be a poster presentation on Monday, April 27th from 4:15 -7:30 PM. It is in poster session #3906 in Exhibit Hall EFG at the Convention Center.“Bullying and dating violence are too important to ignore as risk factors for suicide – the third leading cause of death in teens,” Dr. Adesman said when asked about the important lesson from these studies. Share on Twittercenter_img Email High school students subjected to bullying and other forms of harassment are more likely to report being seriously depressed, consider suicide and carry weapons to school, according to findings from a trio of studies reported at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Diego.“Teens can be the victim of face-to-face bullying in school, electronic bullying outside of the classroom and dating violence,” said Andrew Adesman, MD, senior investigator of all three studies. “Each of these experiences are associated with a range of serious adverse consequences.”All three studies were based on data collected by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as part of its 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System – a biannual questionnaire of teens in grades 9-12 in all 50 states that is constructed to provide a representative sample of high school students in the United States. Sharelast_img read more

Black athletes stereotyped negatively in media compared to white athletes

first_imgEmail Research has shown that media, such as television and video games, can affect viewers’ thoughts and actions. Now, new research by Cynthia Frisby, an associate professor of strategic communication in the University of Missouri School of Journalism, has revealed racial stereotyping in the way media portray athletes. Frisby found that media stories on African-American athletes focus primarily on criminal actions while stories about white athletes are overwhelmingly positive.For her study, Frisby examined 155 news articles about male athletes from online and print news sources to determine the theme of each story. The themes identified included crime, domestic violence, training/hard work, moral success or failure, violating rules of the sports league, accomplishments, and personal lifestyle.Frisby found that overall, more stories were written about white athletes (43 percent) than black athletes (39 percent). Frisby also found that more than 66 percent of the crime stories involved black athletes while only 22 percent involved white athletes. More than 70 percent of domestic violence stories involved black athletes and only 17 percent involved white athletes. Finally, 53 percent of the stories involving black athletes had a negative tone, while only 27 percent of stories about white athletes were negative. Frisby says these statistics point to an existence of stereotyping in the sports media. Share Pinterest LinkedIncenter_img Share on Twitter Share on Facebook “True cultural sensitivity requires the eradication of racial and ethnic stereotyping; thus, journalists and reporters must reflect on how their own unfounded beliefs about race differences in sports likely contribute to the stereotyping of black athletes as engaged in more criminal activity and innately physically gifted yet lacking in intelligence and strong work ethics,” Frisby said. “Not only does negative media coverage serve to legitimize social power inequalities, but also it is likely to undermine black athletes’ achievements and contribute to stereotype threat.”Frisby says this study, while only a first step, sets the stage for future research examining negative portrayals of black athletes in the media.“This study provides quantitative evidence of disparities in how media cover and stereotype black male athletes,” Frisby said. “This serves as an important exploratory study that sets the framework for extensive future investigations into the way media portray and cover athletes from different ethnic backgrounds.”This study was presented at the International Communication Association conference in May and was published in Frisby’s new book, How You See Me, How You Don’t, which is a collection of more than 15 studies performed by Frisby examining various aspects of media stereotypes and their effects on minorities, women and adolescents. Other studies in the book include an examination of media portrayals of women in reality television shows, violence in video games, gender and race in political campaigns, and how advertisements stereotype various genders and races.last_img read more

More frequent overnight hot flashes linked with brain scan changes

first_imgShare on Twitter Share Women who experience more hot flashes, particularly while sleeping, during the menopause transition are more likely to have brain changes reflecting a higher risk for cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke and other brain blood flow problems, according to a pilot study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published online today in Menopause and funded by the National Institutes of Health.More than 70 percent of women have hot flashes — a sudden feeling of intense warmth and sweatiness — while transitioning into menopause, said principal investigator Rebecca Thurston, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine. While recent research has shown that hot flashes can be linked to signs of subclinical heart disease, such as changes in the blood vessels, as well as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, Thurston and colleagues examined the possible connection between hot flashes and brain health.The research team recruited 20 women in midlife who were not taking hormone therapy and, using a device that measures skin conductance, biologically monitored their hot flashes for 24 hours. They also conducted MRI brain imaging on participants to detect white matter hyperintensities, which are bright spots on the scan that are thought to develop due to disease of the brain’s small blood vessels. Participants also kept electronic hot flash diaries. Pinterest The women reported an average of three hot flashes per day, but the monitoring showed greater frequency, at an average of eight per day as some were likely not self-reported because they occurred during sleep, Thurston said. Women who had more monitor-detected hot flashes, particularly during sleep, also had a greater number of white matter hyperintensities on their brain scans.‘Other factors like age and cardiovascular risk factors did not explain this effect, so these findings suggest there is a relationship between menopausal hot flashes and blood vessel changes in the brain,’ Thurston said. ‘Further work is needed to understand whether one causes the other, or if hot flashers are a signal of some other vascular process that impacts brain health.’Thurston notes that it might be particularly important for women who are experiencing numerous hot flashes to consider modifying cardiovascular risk factors by quitting smoking and treating high blood pressure.center_img Email LinkedIn Share on Facebooklast_img read more

Antidepressant medication protects against compounds linked to dementia

first_imgShare Share on Facebook In addition to treating depression, a commonly used antidepressant medication also protects against compounds that can cause memory loss and dementia, a Loyola University Medical Center study has found.The study found that blood levels of two neurotoxic compounds dropped significantly in depressed patients after they were treated with the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro®).The study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, provides new insights into how the immune system responds to depression. LinkedIn Share on Twittercenter_img Email Pinterest Stress and depression interact in a vicious cycle. Stress can lead to depression in susceptible individuals. In turn, depression, if not treated, causes stress. This stimulates the body’s immune system to fight stress and depression, as it would a disease or infection. Revving up the immune system, which includes the inflammatory response, initially protects against stress. But over time, chronic inflammation can cause a range of health problems.In this vicious cycle, depression can trigger an inflammatory response, which in turn can exacerbate depression, said Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.“It behooves us to diagnose depression early, treat it vigorously to achieve remission and work to prevent its relapse,” Dr. Halaris said.The study compared 30 severely depressed patients with 27 healthy subjects. The patients were treated with escitalopram and followed for 12 weeks. Some patients dropped out of the study due to side effects of escitalopram or other reasons. Of the 20 patients who completed the entire study, 80 percent reported complete or partial relief from their depression.To examine the inflammatory response, researchers measured blood levels of nine substances secreted by the immune system. At the beginning of the study, average levels of all nine of these substances were higher in the depressed patients than in the healthy subjects. The differences were statistically significant with four of these substances (hsCRP, TNFα, IL6 and MCP1).The inflammatory response can lead to the production of neurotoxic compounds that can kill brain cells, leading to memory loss and dementia if the depression goes untreated or fails to respond adequately to treatment. The study found that among patients treated with escitalopram, levels of two neurotoxic compounds dropped significantly. Levels of 3-hydroxykynurenine fell by more than two-thirds between week 8 and week 12. Levels of quinolinic acid dropped 50 percent during the first eight weeks and were lower at the end of the study than at the beginning.Escitalopram belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It’s possible that other SSRIs, such as Prozac®, Paxil® and Zoloft®, also could protect against neurotoxins, but this would have to be confirmed with other studies, Dr. Halaris said.The study is limited by the small number of subjects. But it should stimulate interest in replicating the findings with larger groups over a longer period of time, researchers wrote.The study is titled “Does escitalopram reduce neurotoxity in major depression?”last_img read more

Been here before? How the brain builds place memories

first_imgLinkedIn Share on Facebook Pinterest Share on Twitter Tübingen neuroscientists have succeeded in activating dormant memory cells in rats. Using weak electrical impulses targeted at previously inactive cells in the hippocampus, the researchers induced the cells to recognize the exact place where the impulse had been first administered. In rodents as well as humans, the hippocampus is the brain area responsible for memory. Therefore, the new study by researchers of the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) at the University of Tübingen offers insight into the question of how memories are formed within our brains. Their findings are published in Current Biology.Memory is one of the most important functions of our brain. Not only does it allow us to regale our grandchildren with the exploits of our youth; it is essential for many everyday procedures. Our memory is constantly and immediately active whenever we experience a new thing. For instance, after meeting somebody only once, we still recognise them after hours or days. And even when we go somewhere for the first time – for instance, the perfume section of a department store, a particular office in a building, or the toilet in a restaurant – we will usually be able to find our way to the exit without a problem.So our memory is not only constantly alert, it also constructs new recollections very quickly – often during the first interaction. The reason for this alacrity of memory formation is the fact that for every person, every place – and probably a lot of other concepts, too – there are individual memory cells that are specifically assigned to that memory. One subtype of these neurons called granule cells is situated in the hippocampus, a centrally located brain area. Whenever memory concepts like “my living room” or “Angela Merkel” are activated – e.g. by stepping into the living room or by seeing a photo of the German chancellor – the small number of granule cells associated with that memory become activated in the form of electrical discharges. The large majority of the remaining neurons, however, remain dormant.center_img Share Email Up to now, the mechanisms through which individual granule cells are assigned to specific memories were not understood. The question of whether ‘silent’ granule cells can become activated under certain circumstances proved particularly intriguing. The Tübingen research team led by Dr. Andrea Burgalossi worked on the assumption that granule cells which receive electrical impulses can be ‘un-silenced’ and thus become memory cells. To confirm their hypothesis, they inserted hair-thin microelectrodes into the dentate gyrus of rats – an area within the hippocampus which is responsible for memories of space and location – allowing them to send weak electrical impulses to individual granule cells.The rats were allowed to explore a simple labyrinth, and at a specific location within this labyrinth, individual granule cells were stimulated with weak electrical pulses (in the nanoampere range) via the microelectrode. The same electrode allowed the researchers to measure the subsequent activity of the stimulated cells. The result: whenever the rats arrived at the same spot within the labyrinth where the original impulse had been administered, stimulated granule cells now fired spontaneously. The electrical impulse had thus induced the individual granule cells to form a place memory.Moreover, Dr. Burgalossi and his team found that the duration and temporal pattern of the impulses administered play a large role. The impulses formed more durable place memories when they followed the natural theta-rhythm of the brain – a periodic increase and decrease in electrical potential which takes place roughly 4 to 12 times per second. Another finding could turn out to be of equal importance: rats that were new to the labyrinth reacted much more keenly to the induced place memory than rats that had been given the run of the labyrinth beforehand. Apparently, memory cells can be activated more easily when the brain is exposed to novel information.These new insights into memory formation shed light on one of the most important functions of the human brain. And though there is still much to do before fundamental findings like these can offer new strategies for the treatment of brain diseases which affect memory formation (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson, dementia), they represent an indispensable first step on the way.last_img read more

Belief in the immortal soul makes believers more accepting of end-of-the-world scenarios

first_imgLiteral immortality, typically tied to religious beliefs, is the view that the soul itself lives on forever—transcending the physical earth and time itself.Scientists hypothesized that those who believe in literal immortality would be less concerned by news that the world is ending.“Those who do not believe in a soul would be more threatened by a scientific article predicting end of the world because it undermines their sense of immortality,” said Uri Lifshin, principal investigator and corresponding author of the study.“However, people who do believe in literal immortality should be less threatened by such information because they can continue to live on nonetheless,” Lifshin continued.Study 1Study 1 sought to show a correlation between belief in an immortal soul and acceptance of an end-of-the-world scenario. Individuals were asked to participate in a study examining personality types and evaluation of scientific articles. To avoid suspicion, participants had answered questions regarding identified religion and level of religious fundamentalism as a part of a pre-screening survey weeks before.The results showed that participants who believe in an immortal soul were less resistant to the end-of-the-world scenarios than those who believe in symbolic immortality.Study 2In the second study, scientists sought to rule out the possibility that soul believers are simply more prone to agree with scientific information in general than low soul believers.81 individuals participated in Study 2.  They received the same screening and surveys as participants in Study 1, as well as another unrelated scientific article.Consistent with the first study, participants with high soul belief were more accepting of the end-of-the-world article than participants with low soul belief.  Additionally, both high soul believers and low soul believers were roughly equally accepting of the unrelated scientific article.  The results show that the effect is indeed related to soul belief, not a general willingness to accept scientific information.Study 3Since it is likely that soul believers also believe in symbolic immortality—in other words, they would like to make an impact on the world beyond their lifespan—this study aimed to determine whether temporarily shifting soul believers to think about symbolic immortality would affect their responses to an end-of-the-world article.80 participants completed the same questionnaires as those in the previous studies.  Before reading the articles, a portion of the participants also received a questionnaire that momentarily activated thoughts of symbolic immortality.High soul believers who received the symbolic immortality questionnaire were less likely to agree with the end-of-the-world article than high soul believers who did not receive the symbolic immortality prime, confirming the team’s hypothesis.Study 4Study 4, which examined 144 participants, replicated the previous study regarding methods.  High soul believers were still given the symbolic immortality prime.  However, instead of a control group, two other groups were primed for either mortality salience—thoughts about one’s own life ending—and thoughts of severe dental pain—an aversive scenario unrelated to mortality.Results confirmed the previous studies.  High soul believers agreed significantly less with the end-of-the-world article after the symbolic immortality prime than those who received the dental pain or mortality salience primes.Study 5In the final study, scientists sought to ensure that the end-of-the-world effects of the previous studies were due to the defined ideologies and not concern for friends or family members.74 participants completed the same questionnaires as those in previous studies, except that the end-of-the-world timeframe in the article was extended to 50 to 200 years in the future.“We lengthened the timeframe…so that participants’ friends, family members, and even projected children and grandchildren would not be killed by the world-ending event,” said Lifshin.Consistent with the previous studies, the effect of high soul belief on agreement with the end-of-the-world scenario was still significant—as was the effect of the symbolic immortality prime.“All five studies show that literal immortality beliefs in the form of an immortal soul can provide believers with psychological protection that enables them to accept end-of-the-world scenarios more so than people who do not have a firm belief in an immortal soul,” Lifshin said. Share on Twitter Email Pinterest People who believe in literal immortality may have an advantage over those who believe in symbolic immortality when it comes to the end of the world, according to October 2015 research.The series of five studies, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, aimed to determine whether certain worldview beliefs affect how participants react to news that the end of the world is imminent.Symbolic immortality, typically associated with scientific or secular worldviews, is the belief that a person only lives on through the memories of other people—for example, through fame, works of art, or community impact.center_img Share Share on Facebook LinkedInlast_img read more

Narcissists keep a close eye on your selfies — but don’t expect a ‘like’ from them

first_imgShare Pinterest Email Share on Twitter LinkedIncenter_img Share on Facebook Individuals with a higher degree of narcissism keep an eye on the selfies that other people post on social networking websites like Facebook. However, they don’t appear to have an desire to “like” or comment on those selfies, according to research published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.The study by Jung-Ah Lee and Yongjun Sung, of Korea University in Seoul surveyed 319 social network users who had ever posted their own selfies on websites such as Facebook, KakaoStory, Instagram, and Twitter.The researchers found that individuals with a higher degree of narcissism have a more favorable attitude toward the act of posting selfies. They were also more likely to respond to other people’s comments and “likes” on their own selfies. In addiction, narcissism was associated with carefully examining other people’s selfies and the feedback other people received. Despite their interest in other people’s selfies, however, individuals with a higher degree of narcissism were not more likely to provide feedback to other people’s selfies.“An interesting finding is that narcissism was not associated with the act of providing a comment or ‘like’ on other people’s selfies, suggesting that individuals higher in narcissism observe other people’s selfies to a greater extent, but do not necessarily comment on or ‘like’ them. Individuals higher in narcissism are not apathetic toward other people’s social media content and actually are more likely to keep an eye on what others are posting as a means of comparative self-enhancement strategy. Nevertheless, they do not engage in social interaction with or provide direct feedback to other people,” Lee and Sung wrote in their study.last_img read more

Partisan media can convince viewers to reject facts, study finds

first_img“The more people use these sources, they more likely they are to embrace false claims, regardless of what they know about the evidence.”Partisan media have effects on both Democrats and Republicans, the researchers found.Strikingly, use of partisan media contributed to misperceptions above and beyond the influence of partisanship itself.“What you believe isn’t just about what party you belong to. Where you get your news matters, too,” Garrett said.Garrett conducted the study with two former graduate students: Brian Weeks, now with the University of Michigan, and Rachel Neo, now with the University of Hawaii at Manoa.Their results appear online in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication and will be published in a future print edition.Garrett said that the study’s focus on changes in media use and political beliefs over time gives the researchers a unique opportunity to understand how these two factors influence one another.Data came from a three-wave panel study conducted during the 2012 presidential election. Participants were interviewed first during July-August 2012, a second time in August-October and a final time in November. A total of 652 nationally representative participants completed all three surveys.All participants were asked about their knowledge of and beliefs about four different issues in the campaign, two of which favored Republicans and two that favored Democrats.The well-documented falsehoods favored by Republicans were the claims that President Obama was not born in the United States and that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Democrat-favored misperceptions were that Mitt Romney actively managed Bain Capital when the firm started investing in companies that outsourced work abroad, and that there was an immediate drop in marine life diversity in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill.The researchers measured how often participants visited websites characterized as favoring liberal positions, including the New York Times, MSNBC, Huffington Post, ThinkProgress and Daily Kos; and those favoring conservative positions, such as the Wall Street Journal, FOX News, Drudge Report, TownHall and Cybercast News Service.One explanation for why partisan media encourage misperceptions is that their users are sheltered from the truth. For example, it is sometimes suggested that viewers build their own “echo chambers” where they never hear facts that contradict what they believe. But there is no evidence of that in this study, Garrett said.“In fact, we found modest evidence that the opposite sometimes occurs – people who were heavy users of ideological news sites were more likely to say they’d heard evidence related to one of the issues,” he said.For example, the inaccurate claim about Romney’s role at Bain Capital would have benefited the Democratic presidential candidate if it was true, yet a typical citizen who did not use liberal sites had a 47 percent chance of being “unsure” what fact checkers had concluded. A heavy user of liberal sites had only an 18 percent chance of being unsure of the facts.Another possibility is that partisan news sites could undermine accurate knowledge by giving their audience false impressions of the evidence. For example, heavy users of partisan media may not know what knowledgeable people in the media say about the truthfulness of a particular belief.When researchers tested this possibility, the results were more mixed, Garrett said. Still, there was evidence that this was not the best explanation of what was happening.The strongest and most consistently supported explanation of how partisan online media promote misperceptions was that their use leads viewers to reach conclusions favored by the partisan source, despite whatever else the viewers might know, Garrett said.For example, a Republican who knows the facts but does not go to conservative news sites has only a 3 percent chance of incorrectly answering questions about Obama’s birthplace or weapons of mass destruction. An otherwise identical heavy user of conservative sites has an almost one-in-three chance (31 and 33 percent respectively) of holding a misperception.Similarly, a Democrat familiar with fact checkers’ conclusions about Romney who does not visit liberal sites has only a 3 percent chance of answering incorrectly. But a heavy user of liberal sites has a 10 percent chance of answering incorrectly, contrary to their knowledge of the evidence.Because the researchers looked at participants over time, they were also able to see a feedback loop: Use of partisan media leads to inaccurate beliefs which lead to more partisan media use and so on, Garrett said.“It isn’t just that people who hold false beliefs are more likely to consume partisan media,” he said. “The use of these outlets also predicts false beliefs in the future.”The results suggest that we can’t fix the problem of political misperceptions by education alone.“People who believe falsehoods often know the evidence, but understand it differently, in part because of the way it is presented to them in the partisan media,” Garrett said.“It is a crisis of critical thinking. Examining the evidence for ourselves too often means allowing our own biases to influence how we evaluate claims. And ideological news sources encourage us to do that.” A new nationwide study suggests why heavy users of partisan media outlets are more likely than others to hold political misperceptions.It’s not because the people using these sites are unaware that experts have weighed in on the issues. And using ideologically driven news only sometimes promotes misunderstanding of what the evidence says.“Partisan online media drive a wedge between evidence and beliefs,” said R. Kelly Garrett, lead author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University. Email Share Pinterestcenter_img Share on Twitter Share on Facebook LinkedInlast_img read more

Research finds that competition pushes people to exercise far better than friendly support

first_imgFor this research, Centola and Jingwen Zhang, Ph.D., lead paper author and recent Annenberg graduate, recruited nearly 800 Penn graduate and professional students to sign up for an 11-week exercise program called “PennShape.” The federally funded, university-wide fitness initiative created by Centola and Zhang provided Penn students with weekly exercise classes in the University fitness center, fitness mentoring, and nutrition advice, all managed through a website the researchers built. After program completion, the students who attended the most exercise classes for activities like running, spinning, yoga, and weight lifting, among others, won prizes.What the participants didn’t know was that the researchers had split them into four groups to test how different kinds of social networks affected their exercise levels. The four groups were: individual competition, team support, team competition, and a control group.In the individual group, participants could see exercise leaderboards listing anonymous program members, and earned prizes based on their own success attending classes. For each team group, participants were assigned to a unit. In the team support group, they could chat online and encourage team members to exercise, with rewards going to the most successful teams with the most class attendance. In addition, those in the team competition group could see a leaderboard of other teams and their team standing. Participants in the control group could use the website and go to any class, but were not given any social connections on the website; prizes in this group were based on individual success taking classes.Overwhelmingly, competition motivated participants to exercise the most, with attendance rates 90% higher in the competitive groups than in the control group. Both team and individual competition equally drove the students to work out, with participants in the former taking a mean of 38.5 classes a week and those in the latter taking 35.7. Members of the control group went to the gym far less often, on average 20.3 times a week.The biggest surprise came in the number of workouts a week by members of the team support group: Just 16.8, on average — half the exercise rate of the competitive groups.“Framing the social interaction as a competition can create positive social norms for exercising,” Zhang says, now an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis. “Social support can make people more dependent on receiving messages, which can change the focus of the program.”How organizations use social media can affect how receptive people are to online signals, explains Centola, an expert on social networks and diffusion.“Supportive groups can backfire because they draw attention to members who are less active, which can create a downward spiral of participation,” Centola says. In the competitive groups, however, people who exercise the most give off the loudest signal. “Competitive groups frame relationships in terms of goal-setting by the most active members. These relationships help to motivate exercise because they give people higher expectations for their own levels of performance.”Competition triggers a social ratcheting-up process, he adds. “In a competitive setting, each person’s activity raises the bar for everyone else. Social support is the opposite: a ratcheting-down can happen. If people stop exercising, it gives permission for others to stop, too, and the whole thing can unravel fairly quickly.”The positive effects of social competition go beyond exercise, to encouraging healthy behaviors such as medication compliance, diabetes control, smoking cessation, flu vaccinations, weight loss, and preventative screening, as well as pro-social behaviors like voting, recycling, and lowering power consumption.“Social media is a powerful tool because it can give people new kinds of social influences right in their own home,” Centola says. “Lifestyle changes are hard to make, but if you can give people the right kinds of social tools to help them do it, there’s a lot of good that can be done at relatively little cost.” Email LinkedIn Share on Facebook Imagine you’re a CEO trying to get your employees to exercise. Most health incentive programs have an array of tools — pamphlets, websites, pedometers, coaching, team activities, step challenges, money — but what actually motivates people? Is it social support? Competition? Teamwork? Corporate leaders often try a little bit of everything.A new study published in the journal Preventative Medicine Reports from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania found these efforts should hone in on one area: Competition. It was a far stronger motivation for exercise than friendly support, and in fact, giving people such support actually made them less likely to go to the gym less than simply leaving them alone.“Most people think that when it comes to social media more is better,” says Damon Centola, an associate professor in Penn’s Annenberg School and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and senior author on the paper. “This study shows that isn’t true: When social media is used the wrong way, adding social support to an online health program can backfire and make people less likely to choose healthy behaviors. However, when done right, we found that social media can increase people’s fitness dramatically.”center_img Pinterest Share on Twitter Sharelast_img read more