Each day, tens of millions of restaurant goers, conference attendees, college students, military personnel, and school children serve themselves at buffets – many being all-you-can-eat buffets. Knowing how the food order at a buffet triggers what a person selects could be useful in guiding diners to make healthier selections.
The breakfast food selections of 124 health conference attendees were tallied at two separate seven-item buffet lines (which included cheesy eggs, potatoes, bacon, cinnamon rolls, low-fat granola, low-fat yogurt, and fruit). The food order between the two lines was reversed (least healthy to most healthy, and vise-versa). Participants were randomly assigned to choose their meal from one line or the other, and researchers recorded what participants selected.
With buffet foods, the first ones seen are the ones most selected. Over 75% of diners selected the first food they saw, and the first three foods a person encountered in the buffet comprised 66% of all the foods they took. Serving the less healthy foods first led diners to take 31% more total food items (p<0.001). Indeed, diners in this line more frequently chose less healthy foods in combinations, such as cheesy eggs and bacon (r = 0.47; p<0.001) or cheesy eggs and fried potatoes (r = 0.37; p<0.001). This co-selection of healthier foods was less common.
Three words summarize these results: First foods most. What ends up on a buffet diner’s plate is dramatically determined by the presentation order of food. Rearranging food order from healthiest to least healthy can nudge unknowing or even resistant diners toward a healthier meal, helping make them slim by design. Health-conscious diners, can proactively start at the healthier end of the line, and this same basic principle of “first foods most” may be relevant in other contexts – such as when serving or passing food at family dinners.
Autism and Sensory Processing Disorders: Shared White Matter Disruption in Sensory Pathways but Divergent Connectivity in Social-Emotional Pathways
Over 90% of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) demonstrate atypical sensory behaviors. In fact, hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment is now included in the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. However, there are children with sensory processing differences who do not meet an ASD diagnosis but do show atypical sensory behaviors to the same or greater degree as ASD children. We previously demonstrated that children with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) have impaired white matter microstructure, and that this white matter microstructural pathology correlates with atypical sensory behavior. In this study, we use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) fiber tractography to evaluate the structural connectivity of specific white matter tracts in boys with ASD (n = 15) and boys with SPD (n = 16), relative to typically developing children (n = 23). We define white matter tracts using probabilistic streamline tractography and assess the strength of tract connectivity using mean fractional anisotropy. Both the SPD and ASD cohorts demonstrate decreased connectivity relative to controls in parieto-occipital tracts involved in sensory perception and multisensory integration. However, the ASD group alone shows impaired connectivity, relative to controls, in temporal tracts thought to subserve social-emotional processing. In addition to these group difference analyses, we take a dimensional approach to assessing the relationship between white matter connectivity and participant function. These correlational analyses reveal significant associations of white matter connectivity with auditory processing, working memory, social skills, and inattention across our three study groups. These findings help elucidate the roles of specific neural circuits in neurodevelopmental disorders, and begin to explore the dimensional relationship between critical cognitive functions and structural connectivity across affected and unaffected children.
See: Kids with autism and sensory processing disorders show differences in brain wiring (Science Daily)
The narcissistic personality is characterized by grandiosity, entitlement, and low empathy. This paper describes the development and validation of the Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS). Although the use of longer instruments is superior in most circumstances, we recommend the SINS in some circumstances (e.g. under serious time constraints, online studies).
In 11 independent studies (total N = 2,250), we demonstrate the SINS’ psychometric properties.
The SINS is significantly correlated with longer narcissism scales, but uncorrelated with self-esteem. It also has high test-retest reliability. We validate the SINS in a variety of samples (e.g., undergraduates, nationally representative adults), intrapersonal correlates (e.g., positive affect, depression), and interpersonal correlates (e.g., aggression, relationship quality, prosocial behavior). The SINS taps into the more fragile and less desirable components of narcissism.
The SINS can be a useful tool for researchers, especially when it is important to measure narcissism with constraints preventing the use of longer measures.
See: Just one simple question can identify narcissistic people (Science Daily)
How State Taxes and Policies Targeting Soda Consumption Modify the Association between School Vending Machines and Student Dietary Behaviors: A Cross-Sectional Analysis
Sodas are widely sold in vending machines and other school venues in the United States, particularly in high school. Research suggests that policy changes have reduced soda access, but the impact of reduced access on consumption is unclear. This study was designed to identify student, environmental, or policy characteristics that modify the associations between school vending machines and student dietary behaviors.
Data on school vending machine access and student diet were obtained as part of the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study (NYPANS) and linked to state-level data on soda taxes, restaurant taxes, and state laws governing the sale of soda in schools. Regression models were used to: 1) estimate associations between vending machine access and soda consumption, fast food consumption, and lunch source, and 2) determine if associations were modified by state soda taxes, restaurant taxes, laws banning in-school soda sales, or student characteristics (race/ethnicity, sex, home food access, weight loss behaviors.)
Contrary to the hypothesis, students tended to consume 0.53 fewer servings of soda/week (95% CI: -1.17, 0.11) and consume fast food on 0.24 fewer days/week (95% CI: -0.44, -0.05) if they had in-school access to vending machines. They were also less likely to consume soda daily (23.9% vs. 27.9%, average difference = -4.02, 95% CI: -7.28, -0.76). However, these inverse associations were observed primarily among states with lower soda and restaurant tax rates (relative to general food tax rates) and states that did not ban in-school soda sales. Associations did not vary by any student characteristics except for weight loss behaviors.
Isolated changes to the school food environment may have unintended consequences unless policymakers incorporate other initiatives designed to discourage overall soda consumption.
See: Removing vending machines from schools is not enough to reduce soda consumption (Science Daily)
Nesting Gulf Sea Turtles Feed in Waters Filled With Threats
Source: USGS/PLoS ONE
Nesting loggerhead sea turtles in the northern Gulf of Mexico feed among areas that were oiled by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill and where human activities occur, several of which are known to pose threats to sea turtles, a new U.S Geological study showed.
The feeding areas for 10 turtles overlapped with an area that experienced surface oiling during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These sites, and others, also overlapped with areas trawled by commercial fishing operations and used for oil and gas extraction.
The study, which is the largest to date on Northern Gulf loggerheads, examined 59 nesting females, which scientists believe could be 15 percent of the breeding females in the Northern Gulf of Mexico—a small and declining subpopulation of loggerheads that is federally classified as threatened.
Deep-Sea Octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica) Conducts the Longest-Known Egg-Brooding Period of Any Animal
Octopuses typically have a single reproductive period and then they die (semelparity). Once a clutch of fertilized eggs has been produced, the female protects and tends them until they hatch. In most shallow-water species this period of parental care can last from 1 to 3 months, but very little is known about the brooding of deep-living species. In the cold, dark waters of the deep ocean, metabolic processes are often slower than their counterparts at shallower depths. Extrapolations from data on shallow-water octopus species suggest that lower temperatures would prolong embryonic development periods. Likewise, laboratory studies have linked lower temperatures to longer brooding periods in cephalopods, but direct evidence has not been available. We found an opportunity to directly measure the brooding period of the deep-sea octopus Graneledone boreopacifica, in its natural habitat. At 53 months, it is by far the longest egg-brooding period ever reported for any animal species. These surprising results emphasize the selective value of prolonged embryonic development in order to produce competitive hatchlings. They also extend the known boundaries of physiological adaptations for life in the deep sea.
Climate Change Could Alter Range of Caribou and May Impact Hunters’ Access
Source: USGS (PLoS ONE)
Due to climate change, some communities in rural Alaska and the Yukon Territory of Canada may face a future with fewer caribou according to new research published by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the recent issue of PLoS ONE. Scientists examined the future effects of fires on winter habitats of caribou herds and determined that wildfires will reduce the amount of winter habitat for caribou, thus caribou may need to shift their wintering grounds
Warming temperatures will increase the flammability of lichen-producing boreal forests, which are important winter habitat for caribou herds. Caribou serve as nutritional as well as cultural sustenance for certain communities. Caribou avoid burned areas in winter and the changes in their distribution can persist across multiple generations of hunters. Those who rely on caribou in fire-prone areas may therefore have fewer available as climate change increases the number and sizes of fires in the boreal forests.
The Southern Megalopolis: Using the Past to Predict the Future of Urban Sprawl in the Southeast U.S.
The future health of ecosystems is arguably as dependent on urban sprawl as it is on human-caused climatic warming. Urban sprawl strongly impacts the urban ecosystems it creates and the natural and agro-ecosystems that it displaces and fragments. Here, we project urban sprawl changes for the next 50 years for the fast-growing Southeast U.S. Previous studies have focused on modeling population density, but the urban extent is arguably as important as population density per se in terms of its ecological and conservation impacts. We develop simulations using the SLEUTH urban growth model that complement population-driven models but focus on spatial pattern and extent. To better capture the reach of low-density suburban development, we extend the capabilities of SLEUTH by incorporating street-network information. Our simulations point to a future in which the extent of urbanization in the Southeast is projected to increase by 101% to 192%. Our results highlight areas where ecosystem fragmentation is likely, and serve as a benchmark to explore the challenging tradeoffs between ecosystem health, economic growth and cultural desires.
Hierarchical Genetic Analysis of German Cockroach (Blattella germanica) Populations from within Buildings to across Continents
Understanding the population structure of species that disperse primarily by human transport is essential to predicting and controlling human-mediated spread of invasive species. The German cockroach (Blattella germanica) is a widespread urban invader that can actively disperse within buildings but is spread solely by human-mediated dispersal over longer distances; however, its population structure is poorly understood. Using microsatellite markers we investigated population structure at several spatial scales, from populations within single apartment buildings to populations from several cities across the U.S. and Eurasia. Both traditional measures of genetic differentiation and Bayesian clustering methods revealed increasing levels of genetic differentiation at greater geographic scales. Our results are consistent with active dispersal of cockroaches largely limited to movement within a building. Their low levels of genetic differentiation, yet limited active spread between buildings, suggests a greater likelihood of human-mediated dispersal at more local scales (within a city) than at larger spatial scales (within and between continents). About half the populations from across the U.S. clustered together with other U.S. populations, and isolation by distance was evident across the U.S. Levels of genetic differentiation among Eurasian cities were greater than those in the U.S. and greater than those between the U.S. and Eurasia, but no clear pattern of structure at the continent level was detected. MtDNA sequence variation was low and failed to reveal any geographical structure. The weak genetic structure detected here is likely due to a combination of historical admixture among populations and periodic population bottlenecks and founder events, but more extensive studies are needed to determine whether signatures of global movement may be present in this species.
See: Your Building’s Roach Problem Is a Family Affair (Atlantic CityLab)
Several studies indicate that exposure to suicide in movies is linked to subsequent imitative suicidal behavior, so-called copycat suicides, but little is currently known about whether the link between exposure to suicidal movies and suicidality is reflected in individual film preferences. 943 individuals participated in an online survey. We assessed associations between preferred film genres as well as individual exposure to and rating of 50 pre-selected films (including 25 featuring a suicide) with suicidal ideation, hopelessness, depression, life satisfaction, and psychoticism. Multiple regression analyses showed that preferences for film noir movies and milieu dramas were associated with higher scores on suicidal ideation, depression and psychoticism, and low scores on life satisfaction. Furthermore, preferences for thrillers and horror movies as well as preferences for tragicomedies, tragedies and melodramas were associated with higher scores of some of the suicide risk factors. There was also a dose-response relationship between positive rating of suicide films and higher life satisfaction. Due to the cross-sectional design of the study causality cannot be assessed. Individual film genre preferences seem to reflect risk factors of suicide, with film genres focusing on sad contents being preferred by individuals with higher scores on suicide risk factors. However, suicide movies are more enjoyed by viewers with higher life satisfaction, which may reflect a better ability to cope with such content.
Proximity to Coast Is Linked to Climate Change Belief
Source: PLoS ONE
Psychologists have examined the many psychological barriers to both climate change belief and concern. One barrier is the belief that climate change is too uncertain, and likely to happen in distant places and times, to people unlike oneself. Related to this perceived psychological distance of climate change, studies have shown that direct experience of the effects of climate change increases climate change concern. The present study examined the relationship between physical proximity to the coastline and climate change belief, as proximity may be related to experiencing or anticipating the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise. We show, in a national probability sample of 5,815 New Zealanders, that people living in closer proximity to the shoreline expressed greater belief that climate change is real and greater support for government regulation of carbon emissions. This proximity effect held when adjusting for height above sea level and regional poverty. The model also included individual differences in respondents’ sex, age, education, political orientation, and wealth. The results indicate that physical place plays a role in the psychological acceptance of climate change, perhaps because the effects of climate change become more concrete and local.
Reducing Dysfunctional Beliefs about Sleep Does Not Significantly Improve Insomnia in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The present study examined to examine whether improvement of insomnia is mediated by a reduction in sleep-related dysfunctional beliefs through cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. In total, 64 patients with chronic insomnia received cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia consisting of 6 biweekly individual treatment sessions of 50 minutes in length. Participants were asked to complete the Athens Insomnia Scale and the Dysfunctional Beliefs and Attitudes about Sleep scale both at the baseline and at the end of treatment. The results showed that although cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia greatly reduced individuals’ scores on both scales, the decrease in dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep with treatment did not seem to mediate improvement in insomnia. The findings suggest that sleep-related dysfunctional beliefs endorsed by patients with chronic insomnia may be attenuated by cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, but changes in such beliefs are not likely to play a crucial role in reducing the severity of insomnia.
Public Support for Conserving Bird Species Runs Counter to Climate Change Impacts on Their Distributions
There is increasing evidence that global climate change will alter the spatiotemporal occurrences and abundances of many species at continental scales. This will have implications for efficient conservation of biodiversity. We investigate if the general public in Denmark are willing to pay for the preservation of birds potentially immigrating and establishing breeding populations due to climate change to the same extent that they are for native species populations currently breeding in Denmark, but potentially emigrating due to climate change. We find that Danish citizens are willing to pay much more for the conservation of birds currently native to Denmark, than for bird species moving into the country – even when they are informed about the potential range shifts associated with climate change. The only exception is when immigrating species populations are under pressure at European level. Furthermore, people believing climate change to be man-made and people more knowledgeable about birds tended to have higher WTP for conservation of native species, relative to other people, whereas their preferences for conserving immigrant species generally resembled those of other people. Conservation investments rely heavily on public funding and hence on public support. Our results suggest that cross-country coordination of conservation efforts under climate change will be challenging in terms of achieving an appropriate balance between cost-effectiveness in adaptation and the concerns of a general public who seem mostly worried about protecting currently-native species.
Typologies of sleep problems have usually relied on identifying underlying causes or symptom clusters. In this study the value of using the patient’s own reasons for sleep disturbance are explored. Using secondary data analysis of a nationally representative psychiatric survey the patterning of the various reasons respondents provided for self-reported sleep problems were examined. Over two thirds (69.3%) of respondents could identify a specific reason for their sleep problem with worry (37.9%) and illness (20.1%) representing the most commonly reported reasons. And while women reported more sleep problems for almost every reason compared with men, the patterning of reasons by age showed marked variability. Sleep problem symptoms such as difficulty getting to sleep or waking early also showed variability by different reasons as did the association with major correlates such as worry, depression, anxiety and poor health. While prevalence surveys of ‘insomnia’ or ‘poor sleep’ often assume the identification of an underlying homogeneous construct there may be grounds for recognising the existence of different sleep problem types particularly in the context of the patient’s perceived reason for the problem.
The Future of Large Old Trees in Urban Landscapes
Source: PLoS ONE
Large old trees are disproportionate providers of structural elements (e.g. hollows, coarse woody debris), which are crucial habitat resources for many species. The decline of large old trees in modified landscapes is of global conservation concern. Once large old trees are removed, they are difficult to replace in the short term due to typically prolonged time periods needed for trees to mature (i.e. centuries). Few studies have investigated the decline of large old trees in urban landscapes. Using a simulation model, we predicted the future availability of native hollow-bearing trees (a surrogate for large old trees) in an expanding city in southeastern Australia. In urban greenspace, we predicted that the number of hollow-bearing trees is likely to decline by 87% over 300 years under existing management practices. Under a worst case scenario, hollow-bearing trees may be completely lost within 115 years. Conversely, we predicted that the number of hollow-bearing trees will likely remain stable in semi-natural nature reserves. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the number of hollow-bearing trees perpetuated in urban greenspace over the long term is most sensitive to the: (1) maximum standing life of trees; (2) number of regenerating seedlings ha−1; and (3) rate of hollow formation. We tested the efficacy of alternative urban management strategies and found that the only way to arrest the decline of large old trees requires a collective management strategy that ensures: (1) trees remain standing for at least 40% longer than currently tolerated lifespans; (2) the number of seedlings established is increased by at least 60%; and (3) the formation of habitat structures provided by large old trees is accelerated by at least 30% (e.g. artificial structures) to compensate for short term deficits in habitat resources. Immediate implementation of these recommendations is needed to avert long term risk to urban biodiversity.
Leveraging Position Bias to Improve Peer Recommendation
Source: PLoS ONE
With the advent of social media and peer production, the amount of new online content has grown dramatically. To identify interesting items in the vast stream of new content, providers must rely on peer recommendation to aggregate opinions of their many users. Due to human cognitive biases, the presentation order strongly affects how people allocate attention to the available content. Moreover, we can manipulate attention through the presentation order of items to change the way peer recommendation works. We experimentally evaluate this effect using Amazon Mechanical Turk. We find that different policies for ordering content can steer user attention so as to improve the outcomes of peer recommendation.
See: Content kingmaker — quality or webpage position? (EurekAlert!)
School mental health services: signpost for out-of-school service utilization in adolescents with mental disorders? A nationally representative United States cohort
School mental health services are important contact points for children and adolescents with mental disorders, but their ability to provide comprehensive treatment is limited. The main objective was to estimate in mentally disordered adolescents of a nationally representative United States cohort the role of school mental health services as guide to mental health care in different out-of-school service sectors.
Analyses are based on weighted data (N = 6483) from the United States National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement (participants’ age: 13–18 years). Lifetime DSM-IV mental disorders were assessed using the fully structured WHO CIDI interview, complemented by parent report. Adolescents and parents provided information on mental health service use across multiple sectors, based on the Service Assessment for Children and Adolescents.
School mental health service use predicted subsequent out-of-school service utilization for mental disorders i) in the medical specialty sector, in adolescents with affective (hazard ratio (HR) = 3.01, confidence interval (CI) = 1.77–5.12), anxiety (HR = 3.87, CI = 1.97–7.64), behavior (HR = 2.49, CI = 1.62–3.82), substance use (HR = 4.12, CI = 1.87–9.04), and eating (HR = 10.72, CI = 2.31–49.70) disorders, and any mental disorder (HR = 2.97, CI = 1.94–4.54), and ii) in other service sectors, in adolescents with anxiety (HR = 3.15, CI = 2.17–4.56), behavior (HR = 1.99, CI = 1.29–3.06), and substance use (HR = 2.48, CI = 1.57–3.94) disorders, and any mental disorder (HR = 2.33, CI = 1.54–3.53), but iii) not in the mental health specialty sector.
Our findings indicate that in the United States, school mental health services may serve as guide to out-of-school service utilization for mental disorders especially in the medical specialty sector across various mental disorders, thereby highlighting the relevance of school mental health services in the trajectory of mental care. In light of the missing link between school mental health services and mental health specialty services, the promotion of a stronger collaboration between these sectors should be considered regarding the potential to improve and guarantee adequate mental care at early life stages.
Your Morals Depend on Language
Source: PLoS ONE
Should you sacrifice one man to save five? Whatever your answer, it should not depend on whether you were asked the question in your native language or a foreign tongue so long as you understood the problem. And yet here we report evidence that people using a foreign language make substantially more utilitarian decisions when faced with such moral dilemmas. We argue that this stems from the reduced emotional response elicited by the foreign language, consequently reducing the impact of intuitive emotional concerns. In general, we suggest that the increased psychological distance of using a foreign language induces utilitarianism. This shows that moral judgments can be heavily affected by an orthogonal property to moral principles, and importantly, one that is relevant to hundreds of millions of individuals on a daily basis.