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Mental Health

June Wellness News: Here’s an Unexpected Source of Social Insight


Want to learn an unexpected source of social insight or a surprising upside of nostalgia? Keep reading to browse our roundup of wellness news for June 2022, which include other simple tips to speed learning, an effective way to ask for a favor, and more!

Unexpected source of social insight.

Here’s an easy way to tell if you’re going to click with a new acquaintance at a BBQ: See how quickly you respond to each other as you chat. Dartmouth researchers found that the faster a conversation moved, the more connected subjects felt. “Quick responses are an honest signal of connection — they’re happening too quickly to be faked,” says study author Emma Templeton. “The only way it’s possible to respond so quickly to someone is by understanding where they’re coming from and anticipating where they’re going. This happens when you’re attentive and engaged.”

Surprising upside of nostalgia.

Flipping through an old photo album or seeing cartoon characters from your childhood can ease pain, say researchers in The Journal of Neuroscience. They tracked subjects’ brain activity while they looked at nostalgic and modern images and found that the nostalgic images triggered a drop in brain activity, particularly in regions directly involved in pain perception. They suspect that the thalamus, a part of the brain that’s involved in both pain perception and nostalgia, could take feel-good input and deliver it to pain pathways, potentially lessening aches and pains.

Best way to ask for a favor.

Poise, grace, kindness…there are many effective strategies to use when asking for help, but the means by which you ask matters too, say researchers in Social Psychological and Personality Science. When volunteers asked for a favor in person or via email, phone or Zoom, those who did so face-to-face were most successful. The authors say being together helps us feel connected and more likely to help each other.

A simple way to speed learning.

Next time you need to watch a training video for work but are short on time, speed the video up a bit — you’ll learn the information just as well, say researchers in Applied Cognitive Psychology. They had subjects watch videos at a normal speed and at faster speeds, then tested them on the subject matter. The results: Those who watched videos at 1.5 and 2 times the normal speed scored just as well as those who’d watched the videos at normal speed. The researchers say a slightly faster presentation (up to twice as fast as normal) doesn’t overly tax working memory.

The power of the right emoji.

When you can’t talk to someone in person, sending an emoji is a good way to get your feelings across, confirm researchers in the journal Scientific Reports. When they asked 1,000 people to rate the accuracy of emojis, they found that the digital icons corresponded with the full breadth of human emotions and conveyed how strong or weak the feelings were. What’s more, emojis with accessories (star eyes, hearts, or a blue shivering face) scored particularly high in emotional strength. The scientists say their findings suggest emojis powerfully relay “core” emotions like excitement and fear, potentially helping us better understand others’ feelings from afar.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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