Archive for category Study Suggests That

Honesty May Be Best Policy for Mental, Physical Health


Honesty May Be Best Policy for Mental, Physical HealthA provocative new study suggests that telling the truth when tempted to lie can significantly improve a person’s mental and physical health.

University of Notre Dame researchers presented their study, called the “Science of Honesty,” at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

“Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week. We wanted to find out if living more honestly can actually cause better health,” said lead author Anita E. Kelly, Ph.D.

“We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health.”

In the study, researchers evaluated 110 people over a 10 week period. Thirty-four percent of the sample were adults in the community and 66 percent were college students. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 71 years, with an average age of 31.

During the investigation, approximately half the participants were instructed to stop telling major and minor lies for the 10 weeks. The other half served as a control group that received no special instructions about lying.

Both groups came to the laboratory each week to complete health and relationship measures and to take a polygraph test assessing the number of major and white lies they had told that week.

Researchers discovered that over the course of the study, the association between less lying and improved health was significantly stronger for participants in the no-lie group.

For example, when participants in the no-lie group told three fewer white lies than they did in other weeks, they experienced on average about four fewer mental-health complaints, such as feeling tense or melancholy, and about three fewer physical complaints, such as sore throats and headaches.

In contrast, when control group members told three fewer white lies, they experienced two fewer mental-health complaints and about one less physical complaint. The pattern was similar for major lies, Kelly said.

Compared to the control group, participants in the more truthful group told significantly fewer lies across the 10-week study, and by the fifth week, they saw themselves as more honest, Kelly said.

When participants across both groups lied less in a given week, they reported their physical health and mental health to be significantly better that week. Researchers discovered that a week with less lies was also correlated with improved personal relationships and enhanced social networks.

At the end of the 10 weeks, participants in the no-lie group described their efforts to keep from lying to others in their day-to-day interactions.

Some said they realized they could simply tell the truth about their daily accomplishments rather than exaggerate, while others said they stopped making false excuses for being late or failing to complete tasks, Kelly said. Others said that they learned to avoid lying by responding to a troubling question with another question to distract the person, she said.

Because the findings are new they will be submitted for scientific review and publication later this year, Kelly said.

Source: American Psychological Association

Two woman talking photo by shutterstock.

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Resting After Learning Aids Memory


Resting After Learning Aids MemoryThe adage “use it or lose it” has led many aging adults to work on crossword puzzles, participate in web activities for memory improvement and do mental exercises to challenge cognition.

A new study suggests that maybe all they really need to do to cement new learning is to sit and close their eyes for a few minutes. Psychological scientist Michaela Dewar, Ph.D.,  and her colleagues show that memory can be boosted by taking a brief wakeful rest after learning something verbally new.

“Our findings support the view that the formation of new memories is not completed within seconds,” says Dewar. “Indeed, our work demonstrates that activities that we are engaged in for the first few minutes after learning new information really affect how well we remember this information after a week.”

Investigators performed two separate experiments on 33 normally aging adults between the ages of 61 and 87. Participants were told two short stories and told to remember as many details as possible.

Immediately afterward, they were asked to describe what happened in the story. Then they were given a 10-minute delay that consisted either of wakeful resting or playing a spot-the-difference game on the computer.

During the wakeful resting portion, participants were asked to just rest quietly with their eyes closed in a darkened room for 10 minutes while the experimenter left to “prepare for the next test.”

During this period participants could daydream or think about whatever they wanted. The key aspect of this pause was to keep the eyes closed, and to not be distracted by anything else or receive any new information.

When participants played the spot-the-difference game, they were presented with picture pairs on a screen for 30 seconds each and were instructed to locate two subtle differences in each pair and point to them.

The task was chosen because it required attention but, unlike the story, it was nonverbal.

In one study, the participants were asked to recall both stories half an hour later and then a full week later.

Participants remembered much more story material when the story presentation had been followed by a period of wakeful resting.

Researchers say emerging evidence suggests that the point at which we experience new information is “just at a very early stage of memory formation and that further neural processes have to occur after this stage for us to be able to remember this information at a later point in time.”

Researchers believe the new input crowds out recently acquired information, suggesting that the current experiment shows that the process of consolidating memories takes a little time.

That is, the most important method to augment memory retention is peace and quiet.

The article is published in the journal Psychological Science.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Elderly man with eyes shut photo by shutterstock.

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