Want to Be Happy? Buy More Takeout and Hire a Maid, Study Suggests

That’s the takeaway of a study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, whose findings suggest that spending money to save time may reduce stress about the limited time in the day, thereby improving happiness.

“People who spent money to buy themselves time, such as by outsourcing disliked tasks, reported greater overall life satisfaction,” said Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School and lead author of the study, which was based on a series of surveys from several countries. Researchers did not see the same effect when people used money for material goods.

Niraj Chokshi, New York Times, July 27, 2017

Hand Gestures May Boost Students’ Math Learning


A simple wave of the hand can boost a child’s performance in mathematics. A new study published in Child Development found that students perform better when instructors teach with hand gestures—something that teachers in the United States do less commonly than teachers in other parts of the world.

In a test given immediately afterward, students who observed the gestures performed better. A second test, 24 hours later, also showed that the gestured-to students had an edge over the other group.

Linda Poon, National Geographic News, April 7, 2013


‘Til Trump Do Us Part: The Relationship Deal Breaker We Never Saw Coming

“That’s a 43% increase in women who feel like they need to make their thoughts known. Every month, that goes up,” Langston says, adding that eHarmony statistics show little difference between urban or local, city or country: It’s consistent across the red and blue board.
Elizabeth Kiefer, Refinery 29, August 1, 2017

Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on lack of effort

Which is generally more often to blame if a person is poor: lack of effort on their own part, or difficult circumstances beyond their control?

The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation asked 1,686 American adults to answer that question — and found that religion is a significant predictor of how Americans perceive poverty.

Christians, especially white evangelical Christians, are much more likely than non-Christians to view poverty as the result of individual failings.

Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post, August 3, 2017

Nasty, Brutish and Short: Are Humans DNA-Wired to Kill?

A key proponent of this biological view is psychologist Steven Pinker, another Harvard researcher whose writing, particularly his 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature, has significantly shaped the conversation about human violence in recent years. In his 2002 book The Blank Slate, Pinker wrote, “When we look at human bodies and brains, we find more direct signs of design for aggression,” explaining that men in particular bear the marks of “an evolutionary history of violent male-male competition.” One widely quoted estimate by Pinker places the death rate resulting from lethal violence in nonstate societies, based on archaeological evidence, at a shocking 15 percent of the population.

Josh Gibabatiss, Scientific American, July 19, 2017