Kawaii (a Japanese word meaning “cute”) things are popular because they produce positive feelings. However, their effect on behavior remains unclear. In this study, three experiments were conducted to examine the effects of viewing cute images on subsequent task performance. In the first experiment, university students performed a fine motor dexterity task before and after viewing images of baby or adult animals. Performance indexed by the number of successful trials increased after viewing cute images (puppies and kittens; M ± SE = 43.9±10.3% improvement) more than after viewing images that were less cute (dogs and cats; 11.9±5.5% improvement). In the second experiment, this finding was replicated by using a non-motor visual search task. Performance improved more after viewing cute images (15.7±2.2% improvement) than after viewing less cute images (1.4±2.1% improvement). Viewing images of pleasant foods was ineffective in improving performance (1.2±2.1%). In the third experiment, participants performed a global-local letter task after viewing images of baby animals, adult animals, and neutral objects. In general, global features were processed faster than local features. However, this global precedence effect was reduced after viewing cute images. Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images. This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing. For future applications, cute objects may be used as an emotion elicitor to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.
We investigated whether sprint interval training (SIT) was a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve insulin sensitivity and other indices of cardiometabolic health to the same extent as traditional moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT). SIT involved 1 minute of intense exercise within a 10-minute time commitment, whereas MICT involved 50 minutes of continuous exercise per session.
Life course epidemiology has used models of accumulation and critical or sensitive periods to examine the importance of exposure timing in disease aetiology. These models are usually used to describe the direct effects of exposures over the life course. In comparison with consideration of direct effects only, we show how consideration of total effects improves interpretation of these models, giving clearer notions of when it will be most effective to intervene. We show how life course variation in the total effects depends on the magnitude of the direct effects and the stability of the exposure. We discuss interpretation in terms of total, direct and indirect effects and highlight the causal assumptions required for conclusions as to the most effective timing of interventions.
Tens of millions of people are currently choosing health coverage on a state or federal health insurance exchange as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We examine how well people make these choices, how well they think they do, and what can be done to improve these choices. We conducted 6 experiments asking people to choose the most cost-effective policy using websites modeled on current exchanges. Our results suggest there is significant room for improvement. Without interventions, respondents perform at near chance levels and show a significant bias, overweighting out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles. Financial incentives do not improve performance, and decision-makers do not realize that they are performing poorly. However, performance can be improved quite markedly by providing calculation aids, and by choosing a “smart” default. Implementing these psychologically based principles could save purchasers of policies and taxpayers approximately 10 billion dollars every year.
High levels of acute and chronic stress are known to impair problem-solving and creativity on a broad range of tasks. Despite this evidence, we know little about protective factors for mitigating the deleterious effects of stress on problem-solving. Building on previous research showing that self-affirmation can buffer stress, we tested whether an experimental manipulation of self-affirmation improves problem-solving performance in chronically stressed participants. Eighty undergraduates indicated their perceived chronic stress over the previous month and were randomly assigned to either a self-affirmation or control condition. They then completed 30 difficult remote associate problem-solving items under time pressure in front of an evaluator. Results showed that self-affirmation improved problem-solving performance in underperforming chronically stressed individuals. This research suggests a novel means for boosting problem-solving under stress and may have important implications for understanding how self-affirmation boosts academic achievement in school settings.
An in-class computer-based system, that included daily online testing, was introduced to two large university classes. We examined subsequent improvements in academic performance and reductions in the achievement gaps between lower- and upper-middle class students in academic performance. Students (N = 901) brought laptop computers to classes and took daily quizzes that provided immediate and personalized feedback. Student performance was compared with the same data for traditional classes taught previously by the same instructors (N = 935). Exam performance was approximately half a letter grade above previous semesters, based on comparisons of identical questions asked from earlier years. Students in the experimental classes performed better in other classes, both in the semester they took the course and in subsequent semester classes. The new system resulted in a 50% reduction in the achievement gap as measured by grades among students of different social classes. These findings suggest that frequent consequential quizzing should be used routinely in large lecture courses to improve performance in class and in other concurrent and subsequent courses.
Superoleophobic surfaces are of interest for anti-fouling, self-cleaning, anti-smudge, low-drag, anti-fog, and oil-water separation applications. Current bioinspired surfaces are of limited use due to a lack of mechanical durability. A so-called layer-by-layer approach, involving charged species with electrostatic interactions between layers, can provide the flexibility needed to improve adhesion to the substrate while providing a low surface tension coating at the air interface. In this work, a polyelectrolyte binder, SiO2 nanoparticles, and a fluorosurfactant are spray deposited separately to create a durable, superoleophobic coating. Polydiallyldimethylammonium chloride (PDDA) polyelectrolyte was complexed with a fluorosurfactant layer (FL), which provides oil repellency while being hydrophilic. This oleophobic/superhydrophilic behavior was enhanced through the use of roughening with SiO2 particles resulting in a superoleophobic coating with hexadecane contact angles exceeding 155° and tilt angles of less than 4°. The coating is also superhydrophilic, which is desirable for oil-water separation applications. The durability of these coatings was examined through the use of micro- and macrowear experiments. These coatings currently display characteristics of transparency. Fabrication of these coatings via the layer-by-layer technique results in superoleophobic surfaces displaying improved durability compared to existing work where either the durability or the oil-repellency is compromised.
Epidemiological evidence suggests that consumption of flavonoids (usually via fruits and vegetables) is associated with decreased risk of developing depression. One plausible explanation for this association is the well-documented beneficial effects of flavonoids on executive function (EF). Impaired EF is linked to cognitive processes (e.g., rumination) that maintain depression and low mood; therefore, improved EF may reduce depressionogenic cognitive processes and improve mood. Study 1: 21 young adults (18-21 years old) consumed a flavonoid-rich blueberry drink and a matched placebo in a counterbalanced cross-over design. Study 2: 50 children (7-10 years old) were randomly assigned to a flavonoid-rich blueberry drink or a matched placebo. In both studies, participants and researchers were blind to the experimental condition, and mood was assessed using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule before and 2 h after consumption of the drinks. In both studies, the blueberry intervention increased positive affect (significant drink by session interaction) but had no effect on negative affect. This observed effect of flavonoids on positive affect in two independent samples is of potential practical value in improving public health. If the effect of flavonoids on positive affect is replicated, further investigation will be needed to identify the mechanisms that link flavonoid interventions with improved positive mood.
To characterize effects of alemtuzumab treatment on measures of disability improvement in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) with inadequate response (≥1 relapse) to prior therapy.
We sought to determine whether high-dose folinic acid improves verbal communication in children with non-syndromic autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and language impairment in a double-blind placebo control setting. Forty-eight children (mean age 7 years 4 months; 82% male) with ASD and language impairment were randomized to receive 12 weeks of high-dose folinic acid (2 mg kg(-1) per day, maximum 50 mg per day; n=23) or placebo (n=25). Children were subtyped by glutathione and folate receptor-α autoantibody (FRAA) status. Improvement in verbal communication, as measured by a ability-appropriate standardized instrument, was significantly greater in participants receiving folinic acid as compared with those receiving placebo, resulting in an effect of 5.7 (1.0,10.4) standardized points with a medium-to-large effect size (Cohen’s d=0.70). FRAA status was predictive of response to treatment. For FRAA-positive participants, improvement in verbal communication was significantly greater in those receiving folinic acid as compared with those receiving placebo, resulting in an effect of 7.3 (1.4,13.2) standardized points with a large effect size (Cohen’s d=0.91), indicating that folinic acid treatment may be more efficacious in children with ASD who are FRAA positive. Improvements in subscales of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, the Autism Symptom Questionnaire and the Behavioral Assessment System for Children were significantly greater in the folinic acid group as compared with the placebo group. There was no significant difference in adverse effects between treatment groups. Thus, in this small trial of children with non-syndromic ASD and language impairment, treatment with high-dose folinic acid for 12 weeks resulted in improvement in verbal communication as compared with placebo, particularly in those participants who were positive for FRAAs.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 18 October 2016; doi:10.1038/mp.2016.168.