Learning! Roundup: Inspired to Believe, Mice in the Trolley Problem, Incepting Happiness, Asylum Seekers, and More!

A roundup of interesting research from the past week! Inspiration leads to more belief in God, the trolley problem is worse than we thought, and more.
Does this inspire you? Maybe you will also believe in God!
Photo by Greg Rakozy.

Inspiration to Believe

It looks like a belief in God is related to how often a person feels inspired in their daily life. The more often you feel inspired, the more likely you are to believe in God - whether you expect God to be warm and loving or controlling.

The Trolley Problem Revisited

The Trolley Problem is a common one in psych research and armchair academia alike: if you could save a trolley full of people by pushing on man onto the tracks to stop the train, would you sacrifice one for the many? While responses vary depending on the context and how people are asked, generally most people claim they wouldn't be able to physically push someone to their death, even to save others. Well, a new study is getting us closer to the idea that we might actually be more ruthless than that. This one was mice and shocks, but it showed that most people diverted a shock to one mouse in order to save five the pain.

Stress and Eyesight

Apparently, it's already known that loss of eyesight can cause stress (which isn't much of a surprise), but a new study shows that persistent stress can cause the loss of eyesight and worsen other eye conditions.

Happiness Inception

Memory is a pretty wobbly thing - it takes very little suggestion for us to think that we remember something that never actually happened or modify a memory that did. So some researchers thought it would be interesting to see if they could reduce people's experience of anxiety by implanting positive autobiographical memories. And it worked!

Asylum Seekers Benefit Economies

Know someone who thinks that immigration and asylum-seeking is bad for their local economy? Now you can use science to tell them they are wrong! A new study shows that "migrant shocks" in Europe, where very large numbers of people unexpectedly flow into a country, are ultimately GOOD for the economy.

Last Name Status

Just the other night I was at an art gallery with my partner. We talked about Salvador Dali and Emily Carr and I realized that I was calling one by their last name and the other by their full name. Obviously, it was Ms. Carr who was referred to by her full name. I wondered why, and we surmised that it's because "Carr" would be awkward to say all on its own. Turns out, it could be the patriarchy! A new study shows that, across all fields, people are twice as likely to refer to a male professional by only his last name, and that this is bad because we judge people who go by just their last name as more important. Well, shoot.


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