When is gossip good?
Plus, an unexpected way to ease anxiety
“People attribute tremendous meaning and importance to…rituals. Sometimes they tell me this is the most important event of their lives. And yet, when I ask them why they do it, they very often cannot come up with an answer.” – Anthropologist Dimitris Xygalatas
Spill the tea. We often think of gossip as a bad habit. It can be cruel and unkind. But for all its drawbacks, there are some benefits to gossip, too. For example, a study found that gossip can be soothing. When people heard about someone behaving badly — in a way they deemed unfair or anti-social — their heart rates increased. But when they were able to gossip about that person with someone else, their heart rates went down. Matthew Feinberg, the study’s lead researcher, said the act of gossiping “helps calm the body.”
On the spot. Ever seen an improv show? You never know what might happen next. And while that might seem anxiety-inducing for the performers, some research actually shows that improv helps alleviate some types of anxiety. In a new study, researchers recruited 350 8th-12th graders who lived in low-income neighborhoods and measured their social anxiety before and after taking a 10-week improv class. They found that the improv training was connected to reduced social anxiety because it also gave the students a greater tolerance for uncertainty. “More than simply adding fun, improv training may indirectly improve psychological flexibility,” said study co-author Colleen Seifert.
The gift of better gifts. Why is it so hard to find the right gift? This week, why the presents we give for holidays and birthdays often miss their mark, and how to become a better gift giver. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
Dec 12: People in every country and culture mark important milestones, such as births, marriages, and deaths, with intricately choreographed scripts. We even appeal to supernatural forces to give our favorite sports teams an extra advantage. This week on the show, anthropologist Dimitris Xygalatas explains the psychological power behind the sacred and secular rituals that structure our lives.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
Dec 13: When Evelyn Flores missed recess, her second-grade teacher asked why.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to email@example.com.
What occurs once in every minute, twice in every moment, yet never in a thousand years?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
A dealer bought an item for $7, sold it for $8, bought it back for $9, and sold it for $10. How much profit did she make?
The answer: $2 [source]
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
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