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Mind/Body Connection…..Moderate Exercise Not Only Treats, but Prevents Depression

swimmersNewswise — TORONTO, ON – Physical activity is being increasingly recognized as an effective tool to treat depression. PhD candidate George Mammen’s review published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has taken the connection one step further, finding that moderate exercise can actually prevent episodes of depression in the long term.

This is the first longitudinal review to focus exclusively on the role that exercise plays in maintaining good mental health and preventing the onset of depression later in life.

Mammen—who is supervised by Professor Guy Faulkner, a co-author of the review— analyzed over 26 years’ worth of research findings to discover that even low levels of physical activity (walking and gardening for 20-30 minutes a day) can ward off depression in people of all age groups.

Mammen’s findings come at a time when mental health experts want to expand their approach beyond treating depression with costly prescription medication. “We need a prevention strategy now more than ever,” he says. “Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start.”

Mammen acknowledges that other factors influence a person’s likelihood of experiencing depression, including their genetic makeup. But he says that the scope of research he assessed demonstrates that regardless of individual predispositions, there’s a clear take-away for everyone. “It’s definitely worth taking note that if you’re currently active, you should sustain it. If you’re not physically active, you should initiate the habit. This review shows promising evidence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the physical.”

 

Released: 10/28/2013

Source: University of Toronto

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/moderate-exercise-not-only-treats-but-prevents-depression

For Baby Boomers, Denying Aging Can Have Psychological Repercussions

oldermanAging, while a natural part of the human experience, is something our culture attempts to deny. The myth exists that individuals can delay aging as they get older, or even evade it all together, by using measures such as diet, exercise, plastic surgery and Botox. As Baby Boomers age, they are bombarded with messages that they can feel, look, and live like they did ten, twenty, even thirty years earlier. Dr. Mary E. Doheny, Pdh, is available to discuss the psychological repercussions for Baby Boomers that result from denying aging.

All of these desperate attempts to retain unrealistic standards of youth and beauty can have powerful psychological repercussions. “Mortality is a given, but there’s an attempt to deny it,” says Dr. Doheny, a licensed clinical psychologist at The Family Institute at Northwestern, an organization whose mission is to strengthen and heal families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research. “Focusing on the physical side of aging is a defense, a way to deny the implications of aging and death.”

Dr. Doheny states that the aging process provides an important, powerful transition into a life stage that allows individuals to let go of certain superficialities and take part in crucial self-evaluation. “Aging allows individuals the opportunity to take the time to reorder their values in ways that are deeply meaningful,” she says. “The transition allows for a mid-course correction if necessary, to live the later years of one’s life with a new wisdom and deeper sense of self.”

Denying oneself that transition, Dr. Doheny says, can lead to depression and anxiety. “Many of my Baby Boomer clients deny their own aging until a traumatic event brings it up: the death of a parent, the illness of a partner, or needing a hip or knee replacement. As a clinician, I see the other side of that denial, which is so often despair.” Clients who put off dealing with aging have a harder time dealing with it when it inevitably comes up. “At 60 you can’t deny the possibility of illness the way you can at thirty. However, facing those realities isn’t bleak — it provides a wonderful opportunity for growth and satisfaction.”

The perpetuation of the ever-ageless myth denies individuals the opportunity to process aging in healthy ways, and to transition into a phase of life that allows for important self reflection. Placing one’s emphasis on looking, feeling, and behaving decades younger distracts from the important process of dealing with mortality—and can have serious psychological repercussions.

Released: 11/12/2013

Source:  Family Institute at Northwestern University

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/for-baby-boomers-denying-aging-can-have-psychological-repercussions

Americans Expected to Consume 15.5 Hours of Media Per Person Per Day in 2015

MEDIANewswise — Americans consume an enormous amount of media daily via television, radio, phone and computer. As you read this article on the Internet, perhaps while checking the text messages on your smartphone or listening to satellite radio, that statement undoubtedly rings true. But exactly how much media flows to individuals and households in a year? Try 6.9 zettabytes — that’s 6.9 million MILLION gigabytes.

This massive U.S. media consumption is the topic of “How Much Media? 2013 Report on American Consumers,” produced by the Institute for Communication Technology Management (CTM) at the USC Marshall School of Business and CTM Visiting Researcher James E. Short.

The report looks at media consumption by individuals in and out of the home, excluding the workplace, between 2008 and 2015, breaking “media” down into 30 categories of media type and delivery (e.g. television, social media, computer gaming). Information reported in the study was canvassed from several hundred data sources, including media measurement firms such as Nielsen, Arbitron, ComScore, investor and analyst firms, government sources and foundation and research publications.

Growth From 2008-2012
• U.S. media consumption totaled 3.5 zettabytes, an average of 33 gigabytes per consumer per day (One byte is one character of text. A gigabyte is 109 bytes. A zettabyte is 1021 bytes.). By 2012, total U.S. consumption had increased to 6.9 zettabytes, an average of 63 gigabytes per person per day. Put another way, researcher Short said, if we printed 6.9 zettabytes of text in books, and stacked those books as tightly as possible across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, the pile would be almost 14 feet high.
• In 2008, Americans talked, viewed and listened to media for 1.3 trillion hours, an average of 11 hours per person per day. By 2012, total consumption had increased to 1.46 trillion hours, an average of 13.6 hours per person per day, representing a year over year growth rate of 5%.

2015: What’s Ahead
• By 2015, the data indicate that Americans will consume media for more than 1.7 trillion hours, an average of approximately 15.5 hours per person per day. The amount of media delivered will exceed 8.75 zettabytes annually, or 74 gigabytes — 9 DVDs worth — of data sent to the average consumer on an average day.
• Mobile messaging hours, which in 2012 accounted for approximately 9% of voice call hours, will double to over 18% of voice hours, a year over year growth rate of more than 27%.
• Viewing video on the Internet averaged less than 3 hours a month in 2008; by 2012, viewing time increased to almost 6 hours a month, a year over year growth rate of 21%. By 2015, the report projects that Americans will be watching video for almost 11 hours a month, a compound annual growth rate of 24% a year.
• From 2008 to 2015, total annual hours for users of Facebook and YouTube will grow from 6.3 billion hours to 35.2 billion hours, a year over year growth rate of 28%.

Media Consumption:

Looking across different sources of media — from traditional media (TV, radio, voice calls) to new digital sources (tablet computers, mobile gaming devices, smartphones, mobile video) — the report makes a surprising discovery.
“Despite the popular belief that the ubiquitous computer and smartphone dominate modern media life, traditional media, including TV, radio and voice calls, still account for two-thirds of total U.S. household media time,” Short concluded. “Of course the picture is a changing one as digital platforms continue to grow, but they are still only a third of total annual media time.”
• New digital sources, however, are having major effects on most forms of media consumption. If we change our focus from the time people spend viewing media to the number of bytes presented, over half of all bytes are now received by computers, with mobile computers the most rapidly growing segment.
The report also includes data on Americans’ use of media dating back to the 1960s. Over those decades, the supply of digital media measured in bytes has been growing at compounded rates ranging between 6 and 30 percent each year. Media consumption, on the other hand — what we actually pay attention to — has been growing at compounded rates ranging between 3 and 5 percent each year.

The “How Much Media?” research program was sponsored by an industry consortium including Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Seagate Technology and Verizon Wireless. Lucy Hood, president and chief operations officer of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and Josette Bonte, CTM chief strategy officer and director of research, contributed industry guidance and program support.

Released: 10/30/2013

Source: University of Southern California Marshall School of Business

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/americans-expected-to-consume-15-5-hours-of-media-per-person-per-day-in-2015

Human Brains Are Hardwired for Empathy, Friendship, Study Shows

8718906165_e469f482eeNewswise — CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Aug. 22, 2013 — Perhaps one of the most defining features of humanity is our capacity for empathy – the ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes. A new University of Virginia study strongly suggests that we are hardwired to empathize because we closely associate people who are close to us – friends, spouses, lovers – with our very selves.

“With familiarity, other people become part of ourselves,” said James Coan, a psychology professor in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences who used functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans to find that people closely correlate people to whom they are attached to themselves. The study appears in the August issue of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

“Our self comes to include the people we feel close to,” Coan said.

In other words, our self-identity is largely based on whom we know and empathize with.
Coan and his U.Va. colleagues conducted the study with 22 young adult participants who underwent fMRI scans of their brains during experiments to monitor brain activity while under threat of receiving mild electrical shocks to themselves or to a friend or stranger.
The researchers found, as they expected, that regions of the brain responsible for threat response – the anterior insula, putamen and supramarginal gyrus – became active under threat of shock to the self. In the case of threat of shock to a stranger, the brain in those regions displayed little activity. However when the threat of shock was to a friend, the brain activity of the participant became essentially identical to the activity displayed under threat to the self.

“The correlation between self and friend was remarkably similar,” Coan said. “The finding shows the brain’s remarkable capacity to model self to others; that people close to us become a part of ourselves, and that is not just metaphor or poetry, it’s very real. Literally we are under threat when a friend is under threat. But not so when a stranger is under threat.”

Coan said this likely is because humans need to have friends and allies who they can side with and see as being the same as themselves. And as people spend more time together, they become more similar.

“It’s essentially a breakdown of self and other; our self comes to include the people we become close to,” Coan said. “If a friend is under threat, it becomes the same as if we ourselves are under threat. We can understand the pain or difficulty they may be going through in the same way we understand our own pain.”

This likely is the source of empathy, and part of the evolutionary process, Coan reasons.
“A threat to ourselves is a threat to our resources,” he said. “Threats can take things away from us. But when we develop friendships, people we can trust and rely on who in essence become we, then our resources are expanded, we gain. Your goal becomes my goal. It’s a part of our survivability.”

People need friends, Coan added, like “one hand needs another to clap.”

Released: 8/22/2013

Source: University of Virginia

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/human-brains-are-hardwired-for-empathy-friendship-study-shows

Well-Being Not a Priority for Workaholics, Researcher Says

8621311296_92808451f4Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kan. — Working overtime may cost you your health, according to a Kansas State University doctoral researcher.

Sarah Asebedo, doctoral student in personal financial planning and conflict resolution, Edina, Minn., conducted a study using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. She and her colleagues — Sonya Britt, assistant professor of family studies and human services and director of the university’s personal financial planning program, and Jamie Blue, doctoral student in personal financial planning, Tallahassee, Fla. — found a preliminary link between workaholics and reduced physical and mental well-being. The study, “Workaholism and Well-Being,” will appear in Financial Planning Review Sept. 1

“We looked at the association between workaholism and physical and mental well-being,” Asebedo said. “We found workaholics — defined by those working more than 50 hours per week — were more likely to have reduced physical well-being, measured by skipped meals. Also, we found that workaholism was associated with reduced mental well-being as measured by a self-reported depression score.”

The link between workaholism and well-being has been assumed for years; however, there was a lack of research supporting the link until this study, Asebedo said. To understand why people work overtime even when they know it is not good for their well-being, the researchers used Gary S. Becker’s Theory of the Allocation of Time, a mathematical analysis for choice measuring the cost of time.

“It looks at the cost of time as if it were a market good,” Asebedo said. “This theory suggests that the more money you make, the more likely you are to work more. If you are not engaged in work-related activities, then there is a cost to the alternative way in which time is spent. Even if you understand the negative consequences to workaholism, you may still be likely to continue working because the cost of not doing so becomes greater.”

According to Asebedo, Becker’s theory suggests that not only can working more make a person wealthier but it also creates less leisure time to spend money. As income increases a person may be more likely to work more and create an unhealthy habit.

As a full-time wealth manager for Accredited Investors in Edina,Asebedo has found the research useful in counseling clients. She advises workaholics to be aware of the effect excessive work has on their physical and mental well-being and to be prepared for what they can do to mitigate or counteract the effects during busy work periods.

“From a financial planning and counseling perspective, it’s good to be aware of workaholism,” Asebedo said. “It helps me understand what can be the cause of my clients’ stress. It’s just a reminder that you may want to dig a bit deeper into clients’ work lives. Sometimes you might find that they don’t like what they are doing and they want to make a change, yet financially, they don’t know how they can accomplish that.”

Asebedo received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kansas State University. She returned to the university to get her doctorate in personal financial planning through the Division of Continuing Education distance program because she was interested researching the role conflict resolution plays in financial planning.

Data for the study was taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort, a nationally representative sample of 12,686 young men and women who were interviewed on an annual basis from 1979 through 1994 and are currently interviewed on a biennial basis.

Released: 8/22/2013

Source: Kansas State University

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/well-being-not-a-priority-for-workaholics-researcher-says

A Man’s Occupation Linked to Time Spent on Housework

A woman’s work is never done — or so the saying goes. Though women still do about two thirds of household chores, the division of labor may depend on what her mate does for a living.

A woman’s work is never done — or so the saying goes. Though women still do about two thirds of household chores, the division of labor may depend on what her mate does for a living.

Newswise — NEW YORK CITY — A woman’s work is never done — or so the saying goes. Though women still do about two thirds of household chores, the division of labor may depend on what her mate does for a living.

New research by University of Notre Dame Sociologist Elizabeth Aura McClintock shows that when married or cohabiting men are employed in heavily female occupations — like teaching, childcare work, or nursing — they spend more time doing housework, compared to when they are employed in traditionally male jobs. In addition, their wives or partners spend less time doing housework, compared to when the men work in heavily-male occupations.

Examining data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for the years 1981-2009, McClintock also found that when married or cohabiting women work in traditionally female jobs they increase the amount of time they spend on housework, compared to when they are employed in heavily-male occupations, while their husbands or partners decrease the amount of time they spend on this type of activity.

“Importantly, occupational sex composition is largely unrelated to housework for single men or women, suggesting that occupation influences housework through interactions and negotiations between romantic partners,” says McClintock.

McClintock will present the study, “Gender-Atypical Occupations and Time Spent on Housework: Doing Gender or Doing Chores?,” at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Released: 8/6/2013

Source: American Sociological Association (ASA)

Related Link: http://newswise.com/articles/a-man-s-occupation-linked-to-time-spent-on-housework-study-finds

More Siblings Means Less Chance of Divorce as Adult

8549091793_c80c61bd97Newswise — COLUMBUS, Ohio — Growing up with siblings may provide some protection against divorce as an adult, a new nationwide study reveals.

And the more siblings, the better: Each additional sibling a person has (up to about seven) reduces the likelihood of divorce by 2 percent.

The practical difference between having no siblings and having one or two isn’t that much in terms of divorce, said Doug Downey, co-author of the study and professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

“But when you compare children from large families to those with only one child, there is a meaningful gap in the probability of divorce,” he said.

One of the biggest surprises of the study was that it wasn’t the difference between being an only child and having siblings that was significant.

“We expected that if you had any siblings at all, that would give you the experience with personal relationships that would help you in marriage,” said Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, co-author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State’s Marion campus.

“But we found that the real story appears to be how family dynamics change incrementally with the addition of each sibling. More siblings means more experience dealing with others, and that seems to provide additional help in dealing with a marriage relationship as an adult.”

Downey and Bobbitt-Zeher conducted the study with Joseph Merry, a graduate student at Ohio State. They will present their results Aug. 13 in New York City at the 108th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

The study used data from the General Social Survey, which involved interviews with about 57,000 adults from across the United States at 28 points between 1972 and 2012.

The results showed that each additional sibling up to about seven provided additional protection from divorce, Downey said. More siblings than that didn’t provide additional protection, although they did not hurt, either.

The good effect of siblings was seen among Americans of all generations studied.

“Siblings help protect against divorce among adults now just as much as they did 50 years ago,” Bobbitt-Zeher said.

The researchers took into account a wide variety of other factors that may have affected the results.

“One argument might be that it isn’t siblings that matter, but some other difference between large families and small families,” Downey said. “It could have been that small families are more likely to have a single parent, or have some other issue that may hurt children in their future marriage relationship.”

So the researchers analyzed a variety of variables of both the respondents they surveyed and their parents that could have played a role in future divorces, including education, socioeconomic status, family structure, race, age at marriage, whether the respondents had children, gender role attitudes and religious affiliation, among others.

“When we added in all of these controls, nothing took away the relationship we saw between siblings and later divorce,” Bobbitt-Zeher said. “None of these other factors explained it away.”

While the study itself can’t explain the protective effect of having siblings, Downey said there are good reasons for the findings.

“Growing up in a family with siblings, you develop a set of skills for negotiating both negative and positive interactions. You have to consider other people’s points of view, learn how to talk through problems. The more siblings you have, the more opportunities you have to practice those skills,” he said.

“That can be a good foundation for adult relationships, including marriage.”

Both Bobbitt-Zeher and Downey have done previous research on the influence of growing up with or without siblings.

In 2004, Downey led a study that found kindergarten teachers rated students with siblings as having better social skills than only children. In a study published this year, Downey and Bobbitt-Zeher found that teenagers without siblings didn’t seem to have a disadvantage when it came to social skills.

Most other studies of the effects of siblings also look at outcomes in school-aged children, and most show the positive results of smaller families, such as better grades among those with no or fewer siblings.

Downey said this new study is an attempt to both examine the effect of siblings later in life and to see how it impacts more major life events.

“Evaluations of social skills and grades aren’t trivial, but divorce is a more concrete, consequential event in a person’s life. This is the first study to look at how siblings affect such a consequential event in adulthood,” he said.

The results point to one troubling consequence of lower fertility and smaller family sizes in the United States and elsewhere, Downey said.

While much of the work about this demographic shift to smaller families shows the positive side of having fewer children, these findings show there are some negatives to consider as well.

At the same time, the researchers say these results shouldn’t lead parents of only children to worry too much.

“There are so many factors that are related to divorce, and the number of siblings you have is just one of them,” Bobbitt-Zeher said.

“There is a relationship between the number of siblings and divorce, but it is not something that is going to doom your marriage if you don’t have a brother or sister.”

Released: 8/6/2013

Source: Ohio State University

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/more-siblings-means-less-chance-of-divorce-as-adult

 

‘Back to School’ Doesn’t Have to Be ‘Back to Broke’ with These Tips

9264903149_fc2a9b7d25Newswise — BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Slowly but surely, “Back to School” displays are popping up in stores. But if back to school means back to budget woes, one University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) personal finance expert has tips to help stretch a dollar.

Adding up all the costs – supplies, clothes, shoes and electronics – highlights how expensive it can be to go to school. According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2013 Back-to-School Survey, families with school-age children will spend an average $634.78. Total spending on back-to-school is expected to reach $26.7 billion.

While the NRF said that spending is slightly down from last year, UAB School of Business Instructor Elizabeth Turnbull, M.B.A., explained that planning and preparation can help further reduce money spent.

“When the list of required supplies comes in from teachers, try calling a parent whose child recently graduated that grade,” Turnbull suggested. “Often they will be able to share if their child used all items from day one of the school year, or if some can be purchased later on.”

Other ways to not strain the budget include getting the kids involved with the shopping and savings.

“Set your budget amount and have kids who are old enough gather weekly sales fliers or go online and see if they can find all items under budget,” Turnbull said. “If they can, let them keep the difference or receive a treat – this gives them incentive to find it cheap and it teaches them budgeting.”

Another frugal game can include reusing items that may not need replaced each year, like a backpack or lunch bag.

“Offer kids an incentive to reuse old items to get more use out of pricier items,” Turnbull said.

Other tips include:
• Use promotional products like pens and stationary that are already lying around the house
• Buy in bulk with other families and split the cost; if you have multiple kids, keep a school supply basket or closet to save bulk items
• Instead of buying new art supplies, go through crayons and markers the kids already use at home
• Do not forget stores where everything costs a dollar; they often will have school supplies
• Purchase supplies that do not have famous cartoon characters; plain is often cheaper

“The website Pinterest can help offer tips on jazzing up plain items purchased,” Turnbull added. “It can be fun to get together with other parents and their kids to personalize supplies.”

Turnbull said the more the kids are involved with purchasing, the better off they are for the future.

“The earlier you can figure out how to get them to budget, the better they’ll be in the long run when it comes to their own personal finances,” she said.

Released: 7/19/2013

Source:  University of Alabama at Birmingham

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/back-to-school-doesn-t-have-to-be-back-to-broke-with-these-tips

Health News….Summer Sun Good For Psoriasis Sufferers Says Gottlieb Dermatologist

Sun bathing is good for psoriasis, says Julie Moore, M.D., dermatologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital

Sun bathing is good for psoriasis, says Julie Moore, M.D., dermatologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital

Newswise — Sun exposure is usually discouraged due to harmful rays causing skin cancer and premature aging but for the 7.5 million Americans suffering from psoriasis, the sun is a natural medication. “The sun is one of the best treatments for psoriasis, so in summer I encourage my patients to sit out on the deck and give their affected areas a good sun bath,” said Julie Moore, M.D., dermatologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System. “30 minutes is adequate to improve the skin; you do not need to sit out for hours.” The ultraviolet rays in the sun are beneficial to the irritated skin.

Psoriasis is caused when the immune system mistakes normal skin cells for pathogens and reacts by creating an overproduction of skin cells. “Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in America,” says Moore. “There is no cure for psoriasis and it is a life long condition that flares up and calms down due to stress and environmental factors.”

Total direct and indirect health care costs of psoriasis for patients are calculated at $11.25 billion annually, with work loss accounting for 40 percent of the cost burden, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Approximately 60 percent of psoriasis patients missed an average of 26 days of work a year due to their illness.

“Psoriasis is much more than a cosmetic concern; it is often painful, difficult to heal and can be disfiguring,” says Moore, who has practiced dermatology for more than 20 years in the Chicago area.

Dr. Moore has the following facts about psoriasis to share:

• Sufferers of psoriasis cannot tolerate “live” vaccines such as the nasal flu vaccine and the shingles shot. Patients with psoriasis should always consult their physician or dermatologist before getting vaccinated.

• Psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body from the scalp to the bottoms of the feet and even under fingernails and toenails.

• Psoriasis is often the most stubborn on hands and feet. One of Dr. Moore’s most troublesome cases was an older gentleman. “He had severe psoriasis on his thumb and the top of his index finger, exacerbated by regular use of a lighter when igniting his pipe,” said Moore. “Hands and feet are in constant use and subject to friction from movement which aggravates already sensitive skin.”

• “Although it is natural to want to “pick” off the scaling or rough patches caused by psoriasis, this is actually one of the worst things you can do,” says Moore. “There are many creams that are excellent at dissolving “crusting” and promoting healing.”

• Contrary to popular belief, psoriasis does not always itch or even produce symptoms such as the telltale rash.

“Psoriasis has a strong genetic link and if both parents have it, the child has a 50 per cent chance of having it,” says Moore. “If one parent has it, the child has a 10 percent chance of having psoriasis.”

In addition to sunlight, treatment includes medication, creams and artificial light exposure.

Released: 8/6/2013

Source: Loyola University Health System

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/summer-sun-good-for-psoriasis-sufferers-says-gottlieb-dermatologist2

Feeling Left Out Can Lead to Risky Financial Decisions

People who feel isolated are more inclined to make riskier financial decisions for bigger payoffs, according to new research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 121st Annual Convention.

People who feel isolated are more inclined to make riskier financial decisions for bigger payoffs, according to new research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 121st Annual Convention.

Newswise — HONOLULU – People who feel isolated are more inclined to make riskier financial decisions for bigger payoffs, according to new research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 121st Annual Convention.

In a presentation entitled “Effects of Social Exclusion on Financial Risk-Taking,” Rod Duclos, PhD, assistant professor of marketing at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, described several experiments and a field survey that found the more often people felt excluded, the more they chose the longer odds for bigger lottery payoffs, took greater risks with their finances, bet on horse races and gambled in casinos.

“In the absence of social support, forlorn consumers apparently place more value on the power of money to secure what they want socially,” he said.

In one experiment, 59 students played an online ball-tossing game designed to make them feel socially included or excluded. In a separate setting, they chose between two hypothetical gambles with very different odds, Duclos said. The socially excluded participants favored the riskier option more strongly than their included counterparts.

A second experiment used essay writing to make 168 students feel either excluded or included and found that the socially excluded participants were twice as likely to gamble as the students who felt included, he said. Another experiment with 35 students ruled out lower self-esteem as a trigger for risk-taking, through essay writing and a choice of lotteries. In a fourth experiment with 128 students, researchers found those who felt isolated did not take more risks than others if they were told that having more money would no longer result in social benefits.

For a real-world demonstration, a team of trained research assistants interviewed individuals at malls, parks and subway stations, according to Duclos. They asked participants to choose between two lotteries, one that offered an 80 percent chance to win $200 and a 20 percent chance to win nothing and another that offered a 20 percent chance to win $800 and an 80 percent chance to win nothing. The research assistants then asked participants what proportion of their disposable income they had in low versus high-risk investments, how often they bet on horse racing, how often they gambled in casinos, and how often on a scale of 1-4 (1 = never, 4 = often) they felt socially excluded. There were clear positive relationships between the degree to which participants felt socially excluded and how much risk they took, Duclos said.

“Some marketers with questionable ethics may target demographic groups likely to suffer from social exclusion, such as the elderly, divorcees, and widows or widowers,” Duclos said. “Others may be tempted to isolate, physically or psychologically, prospective clients during financial negotiations since doing so may result in larger commissions. By illustrating how common experiences such as feeling rejected or accepted can affect consumers’ financial decisions, our research can help people make more informed decisions.”

The presentation was based on research described in an article entitled, “Show Me the Honey! Effects of Social Exclusion on Financial Risk-Taking” by Duclos and co-authors Echo Wen Wan, PhD, and Yuwei Jiang, PhD, accepted for publication by the Journal of Consumer Research.

Released: 7/25/2013

Source: American Psychological Association

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/feeling-left-out-can-lead-to-risky-financial-decisions-research-finds