ELSEVIER FLASH ALERT TO NEW SCIENCE & HEALTH RESEARCH STORIESTweet
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New evidence reported in Elsevier’s Evolution and Human Behavior suggests Charles Darwin’s idea of evolution through natural selection is still much alive and relevant in the human race.
Researchers explored relationships between the timing and frequency of women’s orgasms and commonly accepted markers of the genetic quality of their mates, including measures of attractiveness, facial symmetry, dominance and masculinity. Participants were drawn from a larger study of relationship formation comprising 117 heterosexual couples. The men were photographed, and their faces were measured for symmetry and masculinity. All participants also filled out a questionnaire to capture details about their sexual encounters and timing of orgasms.
As it turns out, men’s attractiveness and masculinity significantly predicted the women’s orgasms in terms of both frequency and timing. Women reported experiencing orgasm more frequently during or after male ejaculation when mated to attractive men, and reported experiencing orgasm more frequently before ejaculation, along with higher orgasm frequencies overall, when mated to masculine and dominant men.
Previous research has shown that both the timing of a woman’s orgasm, as well as greater sexual satisfaction, may influence conception. Together, these findings suggest that male sire quality increases female orgasm, especially during sexual behaviors that could result in conception.
In many categories, weight influences how users perceive and appraise products. People commonly describe very dense foods as being “filling” or “heavy,” and heavy perfume bottles as being expensive and/or of higher quality.
Exploring this notion further, researchers of Elsevier’s Food Quality and Preference designed a study investigating whether the weight of the container would exert a significant influence on people’s sensory and hedonic responses to the foods consumed from it.
Three bowls, identical except for the fact that they were of different weights, were filled with exactly the same yogurt. Fifty participants were then asked to evaluate the yogurt samples while holding each bowl with one hand, one at a time, for the product’s flavour intensity, density, price expectation and liking.
The results revealed significant effects for all attributes except flavour intensity. Increasing the weight of the bowls had a greater impact on the perceived density of the same yogurt sample served from them, and on the expected price, and to a lesser extent, on ratings of flavour intensity and liking, all of which increased in the heavier bowls.
“These findings could well be relevant in terms of enhancing or modifying consumers’ eating behaviours and experiences, in hospitality and restaurant settings,” conclude the authors.
Chewing gum is often prohibited in schools. Get caught, get detention. But new research in Elsevier’s Journal of Adolescence suggests chewing gum just might be an affordable solution to raising standardized test scores among adolescent math students.
Researchers created a test and control study in which four math classes were randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions. The gum-chewing condition provided participants with gum to chew during math class, homework time and test-taking situations. Students in the control group were not provided gum to chew. All participants completed a daily self-report of their gum chewing in their daily assignment folders.
Students in the gum-chewing condition reported chewing at least one stick of gum during 86% of total math class times and 36% of homework times, while students in the control group reported chewing gum during 1% of total math class time and 9% of homework time. A standardized math test administered to all Texas schoolchildren was used to assess student performance. A baseline test was administered and then a similar test 14 weeks later.
Results revealed students in the gum-chewing group significantly improved their standardized math test scores compared to the control group.
“While the effects observed in this study were modest, even a modest improvement in standardized test scores and class grades is helpful to educators as they try to meet state-wide academic accountability standards,” write the authors.
The act of gum chewing and improvement in memory could be a result of increased blood flow in the prefrontal and parietal cortices of the brain, enhanced release of insulin, and/or a reduction in stress.
Given that gum chewing could be an inexpensive strategy to implement in schools to improve student performance, the authors conclude schools may want to loosen up when it comes popping a stick of gum on campus.
Give kids the choice between a juicy burger and a salmon fillet, and most people know which is going to win out at the dinner table. In fact, previous research from Australia’s National Nutrition Survey revealed children’s meat consumption was at least seven-fold higher than fish/seafood consumption.
Wanting to learn more about Australian children’s polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intakes, Elsevier’s Nutrition explores the actual intake of all PUFAs and compares the intakes to the recommended intakes, and then determines if intakes between children of different body weight and physical activity levels differed. Data files were obtained from the Australian Social Science Data Archive and were merged for 4,486 children ages two to 16. Physical activity data was only collected for children ages five to 16.
The study revealed that most children met the adequate intakes for ∂-linolenic alpha-linolenic acid, but only 50% to 60% of children met the adequate intake for LC ω-3 PUFAs. Only 6% of children met the adjusted suggested dietary target for LC ω-3 PUFA per day. No differences were noted based on different weight categories and physical activity levels.
“There needs to be a strategy to increase the consumption of these vital fatty acids,” writes lead researcher Barbara Meyer, from the University of Wollongong, Australia. “The easiest way to achieve this is to consume fish, preferably oily fish, twice per week.”
She goes on to write that since most Australian children do not consume fish, they could still eat foods enriched with LC ω-3 PUFA such as breads, eggs, milks or flavoured fish oil supplements.
The term “addiction” is traditionally restricted to things like alcohol and drug abuse, but a number of behaviours are now being added under that header. Shopping, exercise, video games and yes, even tourism.
Coined as “binge mobility” or “binge flying,” a new paper in Elsevier’s Annals of Tourism Research, explores the notion that excessive tourist air travel may constitute a new site of behavioural addiction. And while at first glance you may see nothing wrong with people frequently hopping on planes, there is concern over air travel’s climate impacts.
By combining previous research on this topic and a series of one-to-one open-ended interviews with 15 men and 15 women from Norway and the UK, author Scott Cohen along with co-authors James Higham and Christina Cavaliere were able to note some trends in the travel boom and how participants justified frequent travel, even if they expressed concerns about the climate.
Typically, addictions are conceptualized as purely negative, but there are also benefits that individuals may perceive, such as changes of mood and feelings of escape, pleasure, excitement, relaxation and the activity as a source of identity and/or meaning in life. Even the planning of a vacation and anticipating that next big trip can bring an individual a “high.”
For those who expressed concern about the climate, they admitted they were unwilling to rein in their own appetites for tourism, and used strategies of denial and guilt suppression to justify continued frequent holiday flying practices and its perceived personal benefits.
“Continued growth in both frequent flying practices and concern over air travel’s climate impacts are in a dynamic relationship and the question of whether one or the other will reach a tipping point cannot yet be determined,” concludes Cohen. “Self-regulation, external regulation, social norms, technology, and physical resources will continue to co-constitute the balance.”