Rotman Paper Finds Exposure To Fast Food Can Make Us Impatient

There should be an image here!Eating habits have shifted dramatically over the last few decades–fast food has become a multibillion dollar industry that has widespread influence on what and how we eat. The original idea behind fast food is to increase efficiency, allowing people to quickly finish a meal so they can move on to other matters. Researchers at the Rotman School of Management, however, have found that the mere exposure to fast food and related symbols can make people impatient, increasing preference for time saving products, and reducing willingness to save.

“Fast food represents a culture of time efficiency and instant gratification,” says Chen-Bo Zhong, who co-wrote the paper with colleague Sanford DeVoe to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science. “The problem is that the goal of saving time gets activated upon exposure to fast food regardless of whether time is a relevant factor in the context. For example, walking faster is time efficient when one is trying to make a meeting, but it’s a sign of impatience when one is going for a stroll in the park. We’re finding that the mere exposure to fast food is promoting a general sense of haste and impatience regardless of the context.”

In one experiment, the researchers flashed fast food symbols, such as the golden arch of McDonald’s, on a computer screen for a few milliseconds, so quick that participants couldn’t consciously identify what they saw. They found that this unconscious exposure increased participants’ reading speed in a subsequent task compared to those in a control condition, even when there was no advantage to finishing sooner. In another study, participants who recalled a time when they eat at a food restaurant subsequently preferred time-saving products—such as two-in-one shampoo—over regular products. A final experiment found people exposed to fast food logos exhibited greater reluctance for saving —choose a smaller immediate payment rather than opting for a much larger delayed payment.

“Fast food is one of many technologies that allow us to save time,” says Sanford DeVoe, “But the ironic thing is that by constantly reminding us of time efficiency, these technologies can lead us to feel much more impatience. A fast food culture that extols saving time doesn’t just change the way we eat but it can also fundamentally alter the way they experience our time. For example, leisure activities that are supposed to be relaxing can come to be experienced through the color glasses of impatience.”

The researchers point out that it’s impossible to know whether fast food in part caused the value for time efficiency in our culture or is merely a consequence of it—but it’s clear from their findings that exposure to fast food reinforces an emphasis on impatience and instant gratification. “Given the role that financial impatience played in the current economic crisis,” says Chen-Bo Zhong, “we need to move beyond counting calories when we examine the consequences of fast food as it is also influencing our everyday psychology and behavior in a wider set of domains than has been previously thought.”

Ken McGuffin @ University of Toronto – Rotman School of Management

[Photo above by Amy McTigue / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:convenience fast food]

Review Calls For Renewed Action To Create A Fairer Society

There should be an image here!Politicians from all parties must renew their commitment to tackling health inequalities if we are to create a fairer society, say researchers on today.

Their views come as an independent review by Professor Sir Michael Marmot is published, outlining the most effective strategies for reducing health inequalities in England from 2010.

The review is critical of the poor record of policy success in tackling health inequalities and advocates two aims: to improve health and wellbeing for all and to reduce health inequalities. To achieve these it wants social justice, health, and sustainability to be at the heart of all policies.

But David Hunter, Professor of Health Policy and Management at Durham University and colleagues question whether “there is sufficient genuine and sustainable political will to tackle health inequalities.”

There are few votes in health inequalities, they warn, and “although the report is at pains to point out, as others have, that we are all adversely affected and our lives diminished by the growing health gap, this message could easily get lost.”

They outline three reasons for the lack of progress. The first is a focus on individual lifestyle interventions rather than action at a governmental level. “The response to the Marmot report must avoid this at all costs,” they say.

The second — a deep seated inability to join up policy and delivery across government is, they argue “evidence of how fossilised our institutional structures have become and how incapable they are of providing effective solutions to the complex problems we face.”

The third reason for policy failure, they say, lies in the realm of politics. “With the economic outlook bleak and an election looming, the temptation will be for politicians to say that we can’t afford to deal with health inequalities just yet. The imperative is to show that we can’t afford not to.”

The policy changes needed for Marmot’s recommendations to succeed can occur only if these three obstacles to progress are confronted, they conclude. Underpinning these must be a real political commitment at all levels, because a fairer society will benefit all.

A good start in life is the key to reducing health and social inequalities in society, according to an analysis article also published on today. Clyde Hertzman and colleagues argue that governments in both rich and poor countries should be investing more in programmes to support early child development.

James Treadwell @ British Medical Journal

[Photo above by thinkcink / CC BY-ND 2.0]


People Out And About Make Cities Secure

There should be an image here!Young people who have experienced threats and violence feel more insecure than others in urban public spaces, especially when alone. This is one conclusion from researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Gabriella Sandstig, researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences has explored how people perceive threats and risks in urban public places. More exactly, her research focuses on how a city’s physical environment — for example buildings and streets — interacts with the social environment and people’s perceptions of sharing the city with others. For example, a desolate parking garage in the night hours feels more threatening than the same place during the day when there are lots of people around.

The feeling of being alone is a strong factor behind people’s feelings of insecurity. People feel the most secure when they are together with friends or acquaintances, but being around many strangers, for example on a busy street, also makes people feel secure. In addition, her research shows that cities can be made more secure by creating a sense of community and togetherness.

‘We need to populate public spaces and make it evident that nobody is alone and that somebody cares about our public environment. It may be more effective to invest in more street lights — and make sure they are in working condition — than to pay for crime prevention measures,’ says Sandstig.

The most common reason people feel insecure is personal experience of threats and serious risks, which includes both having been victimised personally and having seen somebody else become a victim. Contrary to previous studies, Sandstig found that young people feel more insecure than old people.

The findings on the role of the media are quite complex. Sandstig found that while media reports in themselves do not affect people’s feelings of security, it seems that people’s beliefs about how media do their work play an important role. People who believe that the media often under-reports risks, threats and violence tend to feel more insecure than people who believe that the media’s coverage is correct or exaggerated.

Sandstig says that her study is the first Swedish study to more comprehensively explain the perceived sense of insecurity in urban public spaces. The study is based mainly on 2001-2007 data from the Swedish so-called SOM surveys, but also on two quantitative content analyses of threats and risks reported in the leading newspapers in western Sweden, Göteborgs-Posten and GT, from 1950 to 2003. The regional surveys targeted people in the Västra Götaland County and in the city of Kungsbacka. The study utilised simple random sampling and involved, in 2007, a total of 6000 individuals aged 15-85 from the Västra Götaland County and the city of Kungsbacka.

Gabriella Sandstig @ University of Gothenburg

[Photo above by Phillip Green / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:urban safety]

Are Social Networks Good For Our Social Habits?

There should be an image here!Living in the modern era has evoked a wide selection of technological resources available for use. One of these resources available is social networking, such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Are social networks beneficial to the social lives of Americans?

Are social networks increasing or decreasing human interaction? As a functional human being, socialization is necessary. Humans need to talk and express their feelings to others. Ever since the invention of the telephone, people could communicate instantly with no face to face contact. Over time, this has evolved to modern day’s social networking sites. Each of the three major sites, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter offer something different. MySpace provides users with a page where they can express their likes and personalities. Facebook allows users to quickly connect with each other through status updates and instant messaging. Twitter offers a way to quickly express yourself with people who choose to follow (get updates from) you. Quickly communicating has increased human interaction through social networking.

But are social networks destroying social circles and direct, face-to-face interaction between humans? Why go out to see your friends when you can have a video conference on ooVoo (a video conferencing application), talk to them through instant messaging on AIM (an instant message client), or play games with them through such services as Xbox Live (a service that lets you play games online)?

Though you can do all this from the comfort of your own home, people enjoy going out. Eating at restaurants, going to the theater, or shopping at the mall are all activities that require you to step away from your computer and physically go out. Of course you could make yourself a TV dinner and have a video conference, watch a movie on Xbox, while talking to someone through Xbox Live voice chat, or shop on Amazon while instant messaging, but it is not the same.

Even though social networking sites have become increasingly popular, people still enjoy going out and actively socializing face to face. In my opinion, social networks could never replace direct human contact.

My name is Alexander Melton, and I am Mac user (yes, I have to put that first because it is very important to me). I am in 9th grade and am a full-fledged honor student. I have a 101.4 GPA (our school does not do 4.0 GPA, we do it like everything is averaged out of a hundred). I play the viola, which is like a violin that plays lower notes. I love technology how I use it in my life. I cannot go a day without using my iPhone. I also enjoy gaming. My favorite game is Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2.

[awsbullet:social media market]

Google To Decide What Is Obscene Or Not?

Florida, the states that loves to be in the news, now is seeking the limelight when it comes to porn. As if being torched with hanging chads wasn’t enough, the Florida courts will now become a 3 rings circus as a porn king goes on trial. What will be unique is the the defense will use a Google defense to show that people have difference of perceptions as to what porn is. The defense wants to base this perception to be dependent on where you live. According to the NY Times article:

Judges and jurors who must decide whether sexually explicit material is obscene are asked to use a local yardstick: does the material violate community standards?

That is often a tricky question because there is no simple, concrete way to gauge a community’s tastes and values.

The Internet may be changing that. In a novel approach, the defense in an obscenity trial in Florida plans to use publicly accessible Google search data to try to persuade jurors that their neighbors have broader interests than they might have thought.

In the trial of a pornographic Web site operator, the defense plans to show that residents of Pensacola are more likely to use Google to search for terms like “orgy” than for “apple pie” or “watermelon.” The publicly accessible data is vague in that it does not specify how many people are searching for the terms, just their relative popularity over time. But the defense lawyer, Lawrence Walters, is arguing that the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that interest in the sexual subjects exceeds that of more mainstream topics — and that by extension, the sexual material distributed by his client is not outside the norm.

What is going to make this judgment difficult is where does one draw the line? It seems that we as a society seem to be heading the way that ancient Rome headed. What ever happen to Rome anyway?

But what do you think?

Comments welcome.


Dangers of Medical Practices and HMOs Targeted in Society by Michael Palmer

Michael Palmer’s 11th medical thriller, Society, targets the inherent dangers present to doctors, as well as, to consumers from the managed care industry that places profits ahead of patient well being. Using his insight as an ER doctor Palmer attempts to shed light on some of the more common abuses that HMO’s practice daily, such as denying some patient’s necessary medical care. This societal crisis is shown through the eyes of Palmer’s protagonist, Boston surgeon Will Grant who believes that the managed care industry is damaging his profession and the patients it serves. This has caused his rise to a leadership position in the Hippocrates Society, a group of highly dedicated professionals who want to bring these abuses to light.   

The mystery itself centers on the murder of four HMO CEOs in Massachusetts where Dr. Will Grant is considered a talented and caring physician before he is targeted by a colleague and made to look like an addict of the first caliber. The crux of the matter is that Will, who is unwittingly drugged, endangers a patient’s life when he collapses during a delicate operation. This, of course, results in his losing his privileges at the hospital and being sued by the patient’s family.  Enter Patty Moriarity, a rookie Massachusetts state police officer who is investigating her first big case and trying to discover what the murdered CEO’s could have in common. At first, Patty suspects Will due to his outspokenness regarding the evil of managed care but after some early research, she teams up with him to prove his innocence.  

Soon love blossoms between the two further endangering Patty’s credibility in the eyes of her superiors, who believe that she has obtained her position on the force through the influence of Police Commissioner, Tom Moriarity, her father.   Within the story line there were several antagonists including one major chauvinist, Detective Brasco, who takes over the investigation when their supervisor decides that Pattie is not making progress fast enough. However, Pattie continues investigating on her own time and nearly gets herself killed when she jumps in front of a bullet intended for Brasco. The bullet hits Patti in the skull putting her into a coma at nearly the same time that Will is kidnapped and tortured to prevent him from disclosing evidence that he has happened upon. Palmer then wraps up the drama with a slam-bang battle between our love-smitten duo and some extremely nasty HMO executives and their loyal, gun-toting minions.The story was well written and flowed well never giving the reader time to be bored. Palmer’s settings, developed characters, and plot combine into a gripping story that will not disappoint his fans as they are led to empathize with the protagonists, Will Grant and Pattie Moriarity. However, the reader should beware that the book will tend to make you question your own safety in regards to the current practices in medical facilities and how HMO’s determine what you are covered for. Given that I have to add that I have read several novels by Michael Palmer and have enjoyed each one and while the Society was not my favorite it was a very good medical thriller that kept my interest to the end.[tags]book review, fiction, Society, Michael Palmer, medical thriller, HMOs, societal issue, addiction, state police, murder, thriller, romance mystery[/tags]

Surviving The Group Project: A Note On Working In Teams

Groups can be wonderful or terrible, productive or stagnant, imprisoning or freeing, conformist or creative. In our personal lives, when a group doesn’t satisfy our needs, we can often walk away. But in our work world, this is usually not the case. This site will help you develop the skills you need to make sure your groups we are effective – whether you are the “leader” of the group or not.
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