6 Ordinary Things (That Reveal Your Deepest Darkest Secrets)
We've discussed before how our everyday habits can be indicators of psychological issues or portents of future catastrophes. But some of those behaviors might be hiding something even worse ... for those who have to put up with you. You see, science says that a bunch of seemingly innocuous things we do on a regular basis secretly mark us as grade-A assholes. Hey, we didn't make this shit up. There are actual studies out there that illustrate how ...
People Who Eat Organic Food Tend To Be Selfish And Judgmental
There's a stereotype for the type of person who spends the entirety of their weekly grocery allotment on highfalutin pesticide/hormone/neutrino-freer-than-thou foodstuffs, and it's not exactly flattering. Even before Whole Foods employees started making Amazon logos out of meat, making a big deal out of eating organic foods has seemed to correlate closely with inflated levels of unchecked knobbery. Could it be that the rest of us are simply jealous of those with the mental fortitude to shun delicious junk? Nope! Here's some hard science to back you up the next time you feel like calling them out on their insufferable jerkitude.
A study published in the journal Social Psychological And Personality Science posited that folks who eat organic foods on the regular have an increased likelihood of being judgy toward others (while also displaying a lack of altruism).
As an assistant professor at Loyola University and the study's lead author explains: "People may feel like they've done their good deed. That they have permission, or license, to act unethically later on. It's like when you go to the gym and run a few miles and you feel good about yourself, so you eat a candy bar." If we're reading that right, all you need is a bottle of "veganic kombucha" to feel like you can get away with stabbing someone.
In other words, some people equate the buying of specialty health foods with "moral credits," which they can spend at their leisure on small acts of dickery. It's basically the hipster version of buying indulgences, only with more gastrointestinal regularity. You can follow the links to see how they conducted their research, which involved things like showing people food labels and then asking them to rate situations "ranging from cousins having sex to a lawyer trolling the ER for litigious patients." Whatever their methods, we have a hard time arguing with Doug Barry of Jezebel's assessment of their findings, since it's something we've always considered one of life's great truisms: "eating cookies makes you a better person." (As long as they're not oatmeal.)
Those Who Frequent Tanning Beds Are Likely To Be Addicted (To Things Other Than Tanning Beds)
Now that the general populace is more aware of how wonderful and beneficial prolonged exposure to UV rays is (if you're a developing malignant melanoma), tanning salons aren't quite as popular as they once were. And yet there are somehow still plenty of people who regularly strip down, put on those weird tiny glasses, and go under the lamps. Why do they still engage in an activity that's so objectively self-destructive? Well, a lot of the time, according to research, it's because they're sad drunks and/or junkies.
It's unclear what motivated the eggheads at Yale to study the self-destructive tendencies of orange people (it's not like that has any relevance to, say, world peace or anything), but this they did, only to reach the conclusion that those who display a "tanning dependence" are also prone to other forms of addiction. Like a sixfold tendency toward alcoholism, and a five times greater chance of having an accompanying "exercise addiction."
Plus, it stands to reason that people who pay money to climb into a contraption which provides fake sunlight are also three times as likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder (which, with the initials S.A.D., enjoys the most convenient acronym in psychiatric history).
Yes, pointing out that people with addictive tendencies tend to be addicted to more than one thing may not be the most revolutionary discovery made so far this century. The hope, however, is that the findings will help spur the development of inventions that might help those who are compelled to overdo their UV exposure to the point where they look like a vintage purse golem before they're devoured by skin cancers. What kind of inventions? Only time will tell. Hopefully not a machine where you stuff in coins, pull on a lever, and hope various fruits line up the right way. Or anything to do with starting nuclear conflicts.
Use Reusable Grocery Bags? You Probably Buy Junk Food
"Paper or plastic?" isn't always a necessary question at the supermarket anymore, as it's become common for some shoppers to bring reusable fabric bags on every visit. It's a small effort, but somewhere there are probably some unchopped redwoods and/or unstrangulated seabirds that are quietly applauding your environmental consciousness. Surely, with such a surplus of noble virtue, there's no harm in grabbing a few bags of chips off the impulse rack. And some chocolate bars. And maybe some sticks of enigma meat which purport to be "teriyaki."
Yes, as with organic food mongers, some look at each use of those obnoxiously colored personal bags as incrementally putting their self-perceived goodness reserves in the black -- to the point where they feel perfectly justified in filling up the very same bags with caramel-dipped pork rinds and deep-fried chocolate chip meatballs. In a study conducted by Harvard and Duke business school professors, participants were placed in hypothetical scenarios involving the use of personal reusable versus store-issued bags. And what do you know, those with the reusable bags showed a clear predilection toward buying the junkiest of junk food.
The researchers responsible for pissing off the righteous crusaders of the produce aisle issued a release of their findings in which they stated, "Shoppers often feel virtuous, because they are acting in an environmentally responsible way. That feeling easily persuades them that, because they are being good to the environment, they should treat themselves to cookies or potato chips or some other product with lots of fat, salt, or sugar." Which leads one to think that maybe you could be even more environmentally conscious by bypassing the flimsy bags and shop using those plastic trick-or-treating pumpkins.
Your Facebook "Likes" Can Be Used To Predict Your Intelligence (Or Lack Thereof)
"Liking" things on Facebook can be something of an arbitrary affair, depending on momentary whims and how you feel about expending incredibly minuscule amounts of energy at the time. Sometimes you don't give your "likes" much thought, and sometimes you just need all your friends to know you're a fan of that specific Family Guy background character. But can your "like" patterns reveal whether or not you're a complete moron? One study suggests that it's entirely possible.
After analyzing the likes of 58,466 volunteers, the data crunchers at University of Cambridge Psychometrics Center and Microsoft Research Cambridge claim that Facebook poking can reveal your gender, politics, sexual orientation, where and what you worship, and, as mentioned, your intelligence. Enjoy LOTR and curly fries? You're a genius. A fan of the star of one of the most popular motorcycle companies in the world? Ahoy there, dipshit. The stats seem a bit arbitrary, and the researchers didn't provide much information beyond how they think if you listen to Lady Antebellum, you should probably be wearing a helmet (good thing you're probably a Harley enthusiast).
The goal of all this, in case you haven't figured it out already, is to better figure out how to sell you shit. Thanks to your idle clicking, retailers will be privy to such useful nuggets of information as "users who liked the 'Hello Kitty' brand tended to be high on Openness and low on 'Conscientiousness,' 'Agreeableness,' and 'Emotional Stability.'" Awesome. The researchers do seem to be aware of the privacy concerns people might have about their activities, but they're hoping that "the trust and goodwill among parties interacting in the digital environment can be maintained by providing users with transparency and control over their information, leading to an individually controlled balance between the promises and perils of the Digital Age."
We realize that's a lot of big words for those of you who enjoy such things as National Lampoon's European Vacation and "propagating the human species." Maybe ask one of your friends who likes watching The Godfather during thunderstorms to sound them out for you.
Getting Religious Is A Red Flag When Applying For A Loan
Applying for a loan can involve a lot of praying, but actually mentioning God on the application is a bad idea, according to economists. Not because you run the risk of offending Plutus, the Roman god of filthy lucre, but because doing so apparently means you're more than twice as likely to default.
When three economists from Columbia and the University of Delaware set out to find predictors of how reliable loan applicants will be in terms of paying up, they compiled voluminous data from a peer-to-peer lending site called Prosper. Using the brief write-ups that customers completed to explain why they needed a loan, the economists compiled a list of words that were used frequently by the 13 percent who would ultimately renege. They then called their study "When Words Sweat: Written Words Can Predict Loan Default." (Really, Columbia Title Guy?)
Anyways, the economists found out some obvious things, like how the words "promotion" and "graduating" can be associated with financial stability, while "divorce," "child support," and "bankruptcy" meant the borrower was more likely to hightail it to Mexico. A more surprising finding was that when someone mentions external sources, like family members and their relationship to a higher power, it can be indicative of a "deceptive language style," since liars tend to avoid talking about themselves. Which also explains why they tend to use the royal "we" when referring to themselves -- something we find ... um ... goddammit.
If You Like Bitter Foods, There's An Increased Chance You're A Psychopath
People who drink their coffee black, shunning the creamy goodness of "half and half" or so much as a single grain of sugar, are seen as no-nonsense, can-do tough guys/gals. Or sometimes as tortured artsyfarts who need to stay up long into the night creating their caffeinated masterpieces without the bourgeois decadence of a whipped-cream-topped nonsense concoction from Starbucks.
Of course, these are unfounded stereotypes without any scholarly basis to support them whatsoever. But if you say that people who slurp their java straight have a higher chance of having the same mental illness made popular by your favorite serial killers? Turns out there's a shitload of science behind that.
It's not just coffee -- liking any food that tastes bitter could be a sign you're a raving psychopath, according to a study from Austria's Innsbruck University. On a similar note, those who prefer nasty beer, tonic water, and otherwise non-sweet liquid fare have a greater chance of showing signs of "Machiavellianism, sadism and narcissism, meaning they were more prone to being duplicitous, vain, selfish and deriving pleasure from other's pain."
So why does drinking a can of Pabst while licking a grapefruit you found in an alley point to antisocial behaviors? The researchers don't have a solid answer for that yet, or even whether it's biological, psychological, or some combination thereof. Also, bear in mind that the study could include the sort of personality types who pretend to like the taste of Guinness in an attempt to look cool, while simultaneously wincing like they've been punched in the gut. In other words, liars. Unfortunately, the researchers didn't mention any plans to investigate further, so until this is all sorted out, we can't recommend trying to intimidate your way out of accidentally knocking over a row or motorcycles in front of a biker bar by gobbling Lemonheads.
E. Reid Ross is the author of Nature Is The Worst: 500 Reasons You'll Never Want To Go Outside Again, which is in stores now and available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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