Aug 7, 2009 | 60
TORONTO—Corporal punishment has long been a hotly debated subject, with conflicting study results and opposing ideologies feeding the fire. Now the results of a five-year effort to review the scientific literature are in: a task force appointed by the American Psychological Association concludes that "parents and caregivers should reduce and potentially eliminate their use of any physical punishment as a disciplinary measure."
The recommendation was announced at the APA's annual meeting here today by the task force chair, psychologist Sandra A. Graham-Bermann of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. In a presentation, she explained that the group of 15 experts in child development and psychology found correlations between physical punishment and an increase in childhood anxiety and depression, an increase in behavioral problems including aggression, and impaired cognitive development—even when the child's pre-punishment behavior and development was taken into consideration.
Aug 7, 2009 | 13
TORONTO—All kids like to use their imagination, and many play fantasy games where they pretend to be characters in a made-up world. Some children persist in building especially elaborate imaginary worlds, with impressive depth in terms of histories, taxonomies, language and maps. This detailed, sustained "world play" may be an early marker of broad, general creativity (as opposed to creative excellence in one field such as music), according to two professors from Michigan State University.
Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein—he's a physiologist and she's in the theater department, and both are part of an interdisciplinary group studying creativity—explained the importance of recognizing the breadth of creativity in children yesterday in a symposium here at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. When studying creativity, they explained, most scientists have traditionally focused on a person's main creative endeavor—Mozart's music or Picasso's art, for example. The truth is, however, that most highly creative people are polymaths—they enjoy and excel at a range of challenging activities. For instance, in a survey of scientists at all levels of achievement, the Root-Bernsteins found that only about one sixth report engaging in a secondary activity of an artistic or creative nature, such as painting or writing non-scientific prose. In contrast, nearly all Nobel Prize winners in science have at least one other creative activity that they pursue seriously. Creative breadth, the Root-Bernsteins argue, is an important but understudied component of genius.
Aug 7, 2009 | 17
TORONTO—Gay or straight, male or female—everyone is having fewer affairs now than they were in the 1970s. According to a new study presented here today at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, extramarital (and extra-partnership) sex is way down, and discussion about the topic within couples is way up.
Psychologists at Alliant International University in San Francisco and their colleagues compared survey responses from two large groups of couples, self-categorized as gay men, heterosexual men, lesbians or heterosexual women. About 12,000 people answered the relevant questions in 1975; close to 1,000 participated in 2000. The average length of the relationship at the time of the survey varied between groups, from about four and a half years for lesbians, almost seven years for gay men and about 14 years for heterosexual couples in 1974 to nearly 11 years for lesbians, 13.5 years for gay men and almost 20 years together for straight couples in the 2000 survey.
Dec 15, 2008 | 4
Barack Obama still has a month before his inauguration as the 44th U.S. president, but there have already been a number of attempts to get inside his brain. For some, that might mean Karen Kornbluh, his chief policy director. But for us here at Scientific American, that means his actual brain.
So we were happy to see Jonah Lehrer [pictured, left] offer some of his own brain’s thoughts on our next president’s brain in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. In the interview, Lehrer -- the editor of SciAm.com’s Mind Matters column—touches on the tendency to stand by our beliefs even in the face of evidence to the contrary. That’s a key theme of Lehrer’s new book, How We Decide, which unravels the latest neuroscience research on the complex emotional and (sometimes) rational forces that interact to influence our decisions.
Sep 13, 2007
Did the mosquito actually suck the blood out of my bruise? In fact, could it have bitten me there ON PURPOSE?
Or maybe my immune reaction to the mosquito bite somehow cleared out the bruise in that area more quickly than in the surrounding skin.
Either way, it looks pretty awesome. I'm glad it's still warm enough to wear a skirt!
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