Here is what I am reading today:

“When two professors interviewed subjects for a study on Black Friday, almost all the shoppers said they started their days before 9 a.m., and most spent at least three hours hunting down bargains. But none matched the tenacity of one woman, a 40-year-old named Tracy, who had been a Black Friday shopper for 18 years. Starting her day at midnight on Thanksgiving, she spent the next 16 hours shopping.”

“Thanking people is good manners, but it may also lead to better, healthier lives.”

“When it comes to coaches and athletes, there are some simple rules of thumb to follow to make sure the relationship is a healthy one and kids and teens are protected, says Max Trenerry, an associate professor of psychology and consultant in clinical neuropsychology at the Mayo Clinic. (Trenerry isn’t speaking specifically about the Penn State situation.)”

(Laura’s Note: five years or so ago, my daughter Karen wrote a wonderfully informative post on the male coach/ female athlete issue that she termed  ‘Honeybuns’)

“Two lovers. Twenty lovers. Two hundred lovers. They seem almost to be from different universes, the collections of five or six lovers, versus the serial harems of 100 or 200. How to talk coherently about a hodgepodge of small and big numbers?”

“…This morning, a scientist named Svante Paabo delivered a talk. Its subject might make you think that he had stumbled into the wrong conference altogether. He delivered a lecture about Neanderthals. Yet Paabo did not speak to an empty room. He stood before thousands of researchers in the main hall. His face was projected onto a dozen giant screens, as if he were opening for the Rolling Stones. When Paabo was done, the audience released a surging crest of applause. One neuroscientist I know, who was sitting somewhere in that huge room, sent me a one-word email as Paabo finished: “Amazing….””

“…Earlier this month I attended the 41st annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, which was held in Washington, D.C. I’m writing two short features about the conference for the Dana Foundation, and they’ll be available soon. Meanwhile, here’s a round-up of conference coverage elsewhere…. The Nature Neuroscience blog Action Potential featured a series of guest posts, including one by myself about how the human brain switches between two different cognitive maps during spatial navigation.”

“…That drew a sharp question from two female researchers in the audience who expressed concern that political correctness too often prevents researchers from asking purely scientific questions….”


annieaitken · November 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

I’m relieved to see I’m not the only one who finds Black Friday a sort of cultural phenomena. Although I’ve never personally been much of a shopper, especially on Black Friday, I have seen the effects from onlookers point of view. When I hear stories of Black Friday they are always told with a sense of exhilaration and excitement, which supports the first explanation for the holiday’s popularity. According to this article, as well as my experience, Black Friday shoppers seem to find their most primal instincts while shopping; instead of trying to bring dinner home for the family 10,000 years ago, its now about bringing home a cheap TV.

Agordo09 · November 28, 2011 at 11:56 am

“Why do people love Black Friday?”

I found this article very interesting because this year was my first time going to black friday. Although I missed the first rush I thought it was very interesting what people are willing to do in order to save money on items. In my hometown of Mooresville North Carolina I talked with some friends about it and they said a few years ago if you were to go to black friday at wall-mart the only way you could expect to get any deals was to literally punch and jab your way through crowds. Apparently this year in the Malibu area an older woman brought pepperspray to a strore and sprayed the people in front of her in order to get the doorbusters. Somewhere else I heard someone brought a gun. Now the Wall-mart in my town has adopted a ticket policy. You wait in line to recieve a ticket. If you do not have a ticket you do not get a doorbuster.

-Andrew Gordon

Agordo09 · November 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm

“Are Girls Brains Different Than Boys?”

Obviously most gender differences especially associated with the brain are difficult to analyze because of social and societal standards and pre-determined mindsets. I would argue that the male and female brain are relatively similar to one another at birth with a few exceptions such as toy preference. By learning about the enviornment and about ourselves and what society expects of our gender we then become associated with certain aspects of our gender that set us apart from each other. By associating more with people of our own gender we then learn to think like our gender which then further sets us apart from one another. Perhaps it’s almost like a “gender group-think?”

-Andrew Gordon

Kbginger08 · November 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm

The article “count your blessings adds to your satisfaction” caught my attention. I think this is an easy principle that can easily be applied to everyone and raise one’s overall satisfaction. I recently did this for a project in my personality class. I had to consciously make an effort to be more grateful for a week and record the effects. Ultimately, the I did feel happier and thankful. It was an easy way to realize the many privileges of my life. Having children do this from a young age is great idea. If being extra grateful for a week helped me, I can’t imagine how satisfied the adults will feel who have been raised to be grateful in every situation.

Kbginger08 · November 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Black Friday has been the talk of the town for the past few weeks, so I was interested to read an article about it. At first glance, I have always thought black Friday was about the bargains. Clearly, it is more than that. The idea that the scarcity principle along with hunting and gaining your prize are major factors of Black Friday is not surprising. It appears shoppers have more satisfaction during black friday. In addition, it is a way to socialize and get to know other shoppers, creating a sense of togetherness. After reading this article, it makes sense why some people are so excited to Black Friday shop. For some it is more than the bargains and it more of an emotional, reward ganing experience. Personally, I feel more accomplished when I work hard to find a bargain and in the end have an item to show off at a cheaper price. Obviously, many find black Friday shopping more enjoyable for other reasons than just buying an item on sale.

megconstant · November 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I found the article on why people love black Friday to be very interesting, especially since I am one of those annual shoppers. Last year, many family members and I woke up at 4am last year to get to the mall by 5am to get certain deals on items that we had to have. This year, we decided to go to the mall at midnight on Thanksgiving, and will probably never do it again! Just standing in Macy’s watching people run to get an item or wait in lines that wrapped around the entire store was ridiculous to watch. At some point, you have to ask yourself, how much is the discount worth the amount of standing in line and frustration you go through to get it?

The article talks about how crowds make people happy. I’m not so sure crowds make people happy, but do agree that it can be a fun social experience to do with family and great tradition. We do love to get discounted items and save money on gifts, especially in this economy today.

giulianna.riso · November 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I really enjoyed reading the article about how much is nurture in boys and girls brains. I am a huge advocate for female and male equality. The human brain is so intricate and complex, so indeed genetics matter. I found it very interesting at when women were told that men would perform better on a given cognitive exam, they performed worse. On one hand this makes sense because it probably made them feel like “why should I even try.” The more I think about it though, I think it would force me to want to try harder on this exam to prove that I could perform as well as the males. Maybe I am over simplifying this, but I will definitely keep up on this topic to see where it goes.

megconstant · November 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I found the “counting your blessings leads to satisfaction” article very interesting. I completely agree that children who are raised to be thankful and realize what they have and to practice good manners will definitely benefit in the long run. It is no surprise that this can lead to improved psychological and physical benefits. I can easily relate, in that although it may have taken me awhile to appreciate what I have and how fortunate I am in life, I am definitely happier and have better relationships with my parents and try to not take things for granted. It is so easy to get caught up in this crazy life and to forget good manners and be thankful for everything we do have.

mfitzpatrick · November 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm

The article about Black Friday was awesome! I never would have thought about so many different aspects coming into play. Black Friday is such a hectic day. I’ve always known it to be a day were there are gun shots, people killed, people kidnapped, and then people getting great deals. Never have I ever thought about the psychology aspect of it all. As human, we do enjoy company and enjoy being together or being social. I would go crazy without others around me. I found it fascinating that people who planned out their Black Friday adventure were more aggressive than people who didn’t plan it out. But I guess it makes sense that the people who want the deal the most would plan out their day accordingly, especially for specific sales. Additionally, we do love the hunt. We love the competition. It gives us that adrenaline rush to even live throughout Black Friday, if we go to any stores. With all this said, regardless of the many deals, adrenalines rushes, and social enjoyment one could receive on Black Friday, I still refuse to go.

mfitzpatrick · November 28, 2011 at 7:59 pm

The article about “Inspect what you expect in child/coach relationships” was completely subjective. I do agree that there should be a boundary of some sort, but having been a three sport athlete all throughout my life up until the end of high school, I think it’s healthy to be comfortable around your coach, and have a good relationship with them. My soccer coach held numerous sleepovers at his house for bonding purposes and there was never any issues. Regardless of his daughter being on the team, I think this is a very helpful tactic for any coach to do to help bring a possibly new team together. Examples like this should not be pin-pointed as being the worst thing that could happen between a athlete and their coach. On the other hand, like I said earlier, I do agree that there should be boundaries like meeting in public places, especially for one-on-one meetings and such. Otherwise, an athlete and a coach should have a strong, comfortable, family-like, respected, fun, and enjoyable relationship. If it’s not a combo of the previously listed descriptions, then why would any athlete feel any desire to win for their coach/team? Majority of my varsity soccer team in high school completely despised our coach. He was condescending, harsh, and overall a complete jerk. After a while, we stopped playing for him when we went out on the field and started having fun and losing. Losing angered our coach so much. He was fired from his coaching position later that season. That’s what he gets for lacking a strong and friendly relationship with his team.

akinsella · November 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm

At first, reading the article about Black Friday was very comforting. Like the article said, I was one of those 152 million people who started before 9 in the morning and continued on for at least three more hours. The article mentions why we are so amped on Black Friday shopping – because of the crowds which create competition, the plans that lead to rowdiness, the hunt ending in a sense of accomplishment, and all in all, feeling united and together with our fellow shoppers. However, more than all of that, one brief sentence stood out the most, “…this is as much of their Thanksgiving tradition as turkey.” Ever since I was little I can remember waking up at the break of dawn, stumbling out of bed into the car and driving a half hour to the best shopping mall with my mom and sister. For us it wasn’t about the crowds or the plans or the hunts, but it was about the tradition. It was about being together. To this day the tradition still stands.

akinsella · November 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Reading the article about keeping the coach/child athlete relationship appropriate was very interesting for me to read for several reasons – I have been an athlete all my life, I have been a coach for a large part of my life, and I have witnessed the boundary between those two things crossed. Unfortunately, this problem is becoming more and more prominent. I was lucky enough to grow up with very good coaches – tough but encouraging. A couple of years ago there was a huge uproar in the small town that I’m from because one of the girls tennis coaches had crossed that line. It was devastating seeing the effects that occurred following the incident. It later came out that the coach had a long criminal background that nobody had been aware of. We need to be respectful, but at the same time cautious with who we choose to put in charge of athletes. The bond between an athlete and their coach needs to be strong, needs to be close, needs to be existent; however, it cannot be too strong, too close, or too existent. But how much is too much? It is a very thin line that we are trying to walk. I truly believe it is better safe than sorry. I believe that the suggestions made by this article such as the coach and athlete never be left alone together and a mandatory criminal background check on anyone having anything to do with athletes is a very good start to making that line just a little bit more clear.

mkitselman · November 29, 2011 at 11:12 am

I really liked the article about how counting your blessings leads to overall higher satisfaction in life. I think it is so common in today’s society to focus on the things that one doesn’t have, instead of the things that one does have. This constant focus on needing to gain more in life would no doubt lead to less satisfaction, since all of the energy is put into taking note of the things that you lack. I am a firm believer that if you can change the way you think about things and you have a positive attitude, then you will have a more positive outcome. My parents always taught me to be grateful for what I have, and to give to others who may not have the same opportunities that I do. I would be really interested to see if the study discussed in this article would render the same results across all types of social economic standings. Are kids with lower economic status still just as likely to report less envy and less depression as well as less materialism and higher GPA’s if taught to count their blessings?

mkitselman · November 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

I thought the article on how to keep the relationship between coach and athlete healthy one was really interesting. I think a lot of times these relationships become dangerous because the coach is in such a position of authority. Athletes may hesitate to report inappropriate behavior incase it affects their play time or perhaps because of fear of teammates’ responses. In the case of young athletes, they may trust the coach and be easily manipulated into thinking that how the coach is treating them is normal. I find it disheartening that in today’s society, a coach and an athlete being alone together is advised against. While I understand the basis behind this advice, I feel that this can inhibit the great impact that many good coaches can have on their athletes. Growing up, I know a lot of my peers really looked up to their coaches and viewed them as mentors. In some cases, my peers lacked the parental guidance that they needed during adolescence and turned to their coaches to provide this for them. I think coaches can be a great source of guidance and inspiration for kids who may not get that kind of attention at home, so it is sad that this type of relationship is made more difficult due to coaches who took advantage of their superior positions with their athletes. I do think, however, that background checks should most definitely be mandatory for all coaches. I think this would be a great preventative action, and will most definitely keep athletes more safe.

MikaelaVournas · November 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

The results of this study were not surprising at all to me, I found them rather logical. From every experience I have had with black Friday shopping, I have found the described characteristics to be accurate. It makes complete sense to me that the crowds of people make the Black Friday Shopping even more appealing. I find that people have a way of making the day a sort of social event. Something they are likely to mark on their calendars and look forward to, which leads us to the issue presented as “those who plan, push.” It is clear that Black Friday fanatics are more likely to lash out when things don’t go as they had hoped or planned. These are the people who have invested time and thought into their trip, and thus they have the most to lose. I feel that conflicts are most likely to arise between two of these “planners.”

MikaelaVournas · November 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm

I feel that it is somewhat of a stretch to claim that sex-based difference research will “justify racism.” I don’t think scientists and research psychologists should shy away from a topic like this based on the need for political correctness. I have a hard time believing that a single study discussing a sex-based difference will pave the way for a society ridden with sexism and a superior gender. Personally, I take the results of the majority of studies a read about with a grain of salt. Having taken a psychology research methods class, I realize there is no perfect study, and thus no “perfect study” generalizable to the entire population.

MikaelaVournas · November 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm

**”justify sexism”

Susan Carnohan · November 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I read the article on Black Friday with interest, because I was wondering what was the attraction? Then, I remembered that in my younger years I used to go to garage sales, and would get caught up in the same type of frenzy that these individuals do on Black Friday. I would map out my route, and rush so I could get the deals. I am embarrassed to say that some things I bought I did not use. Now, since I have stopped that weekly habit, I feel like I have returned to my senses. Now, all that craziness reminds me of a shark feeding frenzy, and I do not want any part of it. I treasure my sleep, and I do not need all that stuff. I have learned that stuff does not bring long-term happiness. Actually, the more stuff you have, the more stuff owns you.

Susan Carnohan · November 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm

The article on counting your blessings was of interest to me because I had struggled with this issue in my younger years. I saw the world from the glass-half-empty perspective. Even though we had food on the table, clothing to wear, and a house to live in, the finances were so tight that we could not even buy gum. Anything that was not a necessity was a luxury and was not allowed. We had to sometimes fish off the pier for dinner and glean fields for fruit and vegetables. My clothing was minimal and practical. This made me somewhat of a misfit in school. I wish that my parents had modeled and taught me an attitude of gratitude during that time. Now, I realize the benefits of being grateful, and try to practice this as much as I can. I am a much happier person now than when I was in my younger years.

ehurley · November 29, 2011 at 8:07 pm

I’ve never taken part in Black Friday myself, but I definitely understand the psychology behind why it’s very popular. I think that the idea that it’s a “hunt” really plays a part in the enthusiasm – it’s an opportunity to prove yourself as better or tougher, and I think it’s also kind of a metaphor for the basic human motivation of getting more food to survive. I also think that the idea of being part of a crowd appeals to people. The idea of participating in something that a lot of other people are part of is a strong psychological impulse.

lancesturgeon · December 1, 2011 at 7:18 pm

For the article “Why do People Love Black Friday”:

I found this article very interesting but hard to agree with. On one hand, I can see how people would consider that type of crazy environment as a “fun, social” experience. But in my opinion, I do not see the fun in waking up absurdly early to wait in line and compete/race for whatever products are on sale at that time. It makes humans look like a bunch of frenzied fish fighting over flakes of food. Silliness ensues. But I realize that it is an American tradition for some people so they can have fun. Meanwhile, I’ll be recovering from my Thanksgiving food coma.

lancesturgeon · December 1, 2011 at 7:24 pm

For the article “Counting Your Blessings Adds to Satisfaction”:

Being thankful is such a good attitude to have, especially if you live in America. Not to get preachy, but other countries have it SO much harder than we will ever experience. There is a concept called “First World Problems” that explains this. Some examples of First World Problems would be “Oh no, I left my laptop charger at home so now I can’t check Facebook during class. Life is so hard.” The truth is that taking things for granted leads to a narrow minded life. We are lucky to be in America, getting a great education with all our fancy toys to keep us entertained. It is better to appreciate life for what you have, not what you don’t have.

ehurley · December 2, 2011 at 3:06 am

The article on whether girls’ brains are different from boys’ brains brings up a point that I believe is very important in psychology: making sure to pay attention to both biology or genetic factors and environmental factors, and carefully analyzing each side. Thinking that one or the other completely influences the differences between boys’ and girls’ brains will lead to misconceptions and biased results. I think that the accepted beliefs about female abilities and cognitive function have come a long way, but sometimes the ingrained prejudices can still influence us. So I believe that making sure to look at how factors other than biology affect the brains of girls versus boys will lead to a better understanding of the nature of both.

anajafia · December 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

This is a response to “Kids who count their blessings multiply satisfaction.” I’m glad there is an article statistically showing it, but I’m surprised it has just be released so recently. The theories on emotion we studies I felt showed this. The James-Lange theory points out that if we smile and have a sweet, generous disposition, we feel happier and more helpful. I’ve always noticed the emotion manifesting itself whenever I’ve made certain facial expressions. Although I’m still unsure on which theory on emotion I agree with more, because the Schachter-Singer theory feels so dead on as well. It is coincidental I read this article today, because just yesterday I was telling my girlfriend, who have been a little down, to count her blessings, appreciate them, and be happy with yourself. Consequently, I added she will feel better by doing these quick tasks, and followed up with the theories haha.
It is troubling to hear, as well as constantly seeing, though how tough people make their lives. Many people, including I, instead of seeing the bright life they have and the fantastic people around them nitpick the small things that go wrong. The difficulty in accepting one’s personal flaws and moving on should be easy, I believe, but instead it is perceived as overwhelmingly powerful. If we all took a breather, relax, and fully live in the moment, I believe empathy and kindness towards others will simultaneously increase with kindness toward yourself.

mbise · December 2, 2011 at 11:47 pm

The recent charges against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky (who had contact with his alleged victims through the underprivileged youth charity The Second Mile) bring important focus to appropriate coach-child relationships. I grew up in a town in which some children (mostly the boys, at this age and these sports) start wrestling or playing football at 5, and it plays a huge role in their lives through high school. Kids spend hours with these adults, often more than with their families, and this puts them in a very vulnerable position. The article specifies the risk of sexual abuse, but I think that the risk of extreme emotional pressures on the child is also important.
However, I do think that the boundaries suggested by “Tips On Keeping the Coach/Child Athlete Relationship a Healthy One” are too strong. For some children, the relationship with and role of the coach is much healthier than those of the parent(s). I think that the most important thing is for parents and other coaches to just pay close attention.

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