Elections Undermine Happiness, and Other News

A girl looks disappointed while reading the newspaperIt seems obvious enough that Election Day is hard on the candidates who lose, but it may be almost as difficult for the people who voted for these candidates. A new study has found that seeing your candidate win an election does little to increase happiness, but a substantial loss increases negative feelings. Researchers relied on daily survey data to track happiness leading up to and immediately following the 2012 presidential election. They discovered that the increase in unhappiness following an election lasted about a week.

Researchers also compared happiness rates to those immediately following two national tragedies: the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and the Boston Marathon bombing. Though these events were treated as national tragedies in the media, their effects on people’s happiness were actually lower than that of the presidential election. After the tragedies, people reported about half the level of sadness they experienced when their chosen candidate lost the election.

Brittany Maynard, Death With Dignity Advocate, Ends Her Life

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman facing a terminal cancer diagnosis, went public with her decision to end her life in October. She and her family moved to Oregon to make use of Oregon’s Death with Dignity law. Maynard ended her life on November 1st, surrounded by loved ones, using medication prescribed by her doctor. You can send your condolences to Brittany’s family, learn more about her life, and educate yourself about assisted suicide here.

End-of-Life Care Discussions May Miss Patient Priorities

In discussions about end-of-life care, doctors may neglect to discuss the issues most important to their patients. A study of more than 200 seriously ill people and 205 of their family members asked them to evaluate the relative importance of 11 end-of-life topics. Participants ranked care for life-threatening illness, values, illness prognosis, fears about the illness, and questions regarding care as the most important issues. Of the 11 important issues identified by researchers, though, doctors only discussed an average of 1.4 issues with their patients. 

High-Fat Diet Postpones Brain Aging in Mice

Brain aging plays a role in diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as rare childhood conditions that cause premature aging. A new study in mice who have genetic defects that lead to premature aging has found that a high-fat diet can slow down the aging process.

Want to Be a Leader? Cultivate a Healthy Look.

According to a survey of 148 adults, looking healthy may be more important than looking intelligent if you want to be selected as a leader. Researchers showed participants photos of one man, but in each photo, his face had been digitally altered. The first photo was adjusted to make the man appear more intelligent, while the second photo made him appear more healthy. Respondents claimed that the healthier-looking man would make a better CEO.

Jerry Seinfeld Says He’s on the Autism Spectrum During Interview with Brian Williams

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld told the host of NBC’s Nightly News that he believes that, “on a very drawn-out scale,” he’s on the autism spectrum. The 60-year-old Seinfeld, who is known to support autism charities, cited difficulty with basic social engagement and with understanding “expressions.”

Shift Work Dulls Your Brain – Report

According to a new study of people who work unusual hours, 10 years of shift work can age the brain an additional six years. Shift workers are also at an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, obesity, and strokes. The researchers who conducted the study also point out that many major disasters, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Chernobyl meltdown, occurred under the watch of shift workers.

How Exercise Could Reduce Relapse During Meth Withdrawal

A study of rats in whom researchers cultivated an addiction to methamphetamine has found that exercise might help the rats avoid drug cravings. Rats who exercised—even for short bursts—needed less methamphetamine, suggesting that even small quantities of exercise might help humans addicted to meth avoid drug cravings, reducing risk of relapse.

Battle Metaphors for Cancer Can Be Harmful

Popular culture frequently portrays the fight against cancer as a courageous battle. For people whose cancer is terminal, though, these metaphors may be harmful. According to research by Elena Semino, a linguist at Lancaster University, these metaphors set cancer up as a battle that must be fought and won, leading those who can’t fight that battle to experience feelings of guilt and failure.

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  • Molly


    November 7th, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    I am all into politics and it is my civic duty to vote but I guess that I have never gotten so invested in a candidate that if he or she lost that I would feel like I lost as well. I would have thought that you would have to be pretty deep in the trenches to feel like this but I suppose that this is not the case. I actually think that there are a lot of us who have become pretty disenfranchised with the whole political process and do not really feel like our one vote is going to make that huge of a a difference to anyone. I remember that there was a time in my life that I did think that it was more important or life changing than what I think about it today. I guess that I am definitely becoming a little more cynical in my old age.

  • catherine


    November 7th, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    The courage that Brittany Maynard and her family must have had to have… I pray for the family to have strength and peace during what I know must be a sadness filled time for them.

  • Jen


    November 10th, 2014 at 3:50 AM

    While I applaud when celebs come out and support a cause, for Jerry Seinfeld to say that he could be on the autism spectrum could be very misleading. How does he know this? Has he been diagnosed by an expert? Or is this just to make him more relate-able to the families who actually do have to deal with this on a day to day basis?

  • Karen


    November 10th, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    What do you mean by shift work? I have set hours too even though I guess technically you wouldn’t say that it is working a shift because there is then no one who comes and takes my place when my work hours are over.

  • marina


    November 11th, 2014 at 3:50 AM

    I never think that someone living with cancer should ever feel guilty about what this disease can do their bodies. They do have to fight against it, but there will always be some battles that are won and some that are lost. It might be discouraging for some but I think that the metaphors give a lot of energy to the fight for some people and this becomes their rally cry.

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