Peers encourage risky behaviour just by being there

Worrying findings in a study reported at ScienceDaily this week.

Teenagers are generally regarded to be at a stage where risk-taking behaviour is more common. We now have an indicator of why this behaviour occurs at a time in a person’s development.

A scenario was devised to test whether teenagers were more likely to engage in risky actions in the presence of their peers. The answer, sadly, was yes.

One of the study’s authors, Lawrence Steinberg, says “We know that when one is rewarded by one thing then other rewards become more salient. Because adolescents find socializing so rewarding, we postulate that being with friends primes the reward system and makes teens pay more attention to the potential pay offs of a risky decision.”

Having friends is a risky business when you’re a teen.


Handedness in cats

This is an older article, but I woke up to a gift of half a mouse my cat left for me on the carpet last night, so I figured a feline-related story was called for.

Seems that testosterone levels in cats impart a preference for the use of left or right paws.

A test for cats consisting of tasks of varying difficulty – from playing with a toy to manipulating a piece of food out of a tight spot – found that, under pressure to complete a tricky task, toms tended to use their left hands and females, their right.

More detailed overview here.

Picture via the inestimably marvellous icanhascheezburger.com


We’ll never be happy…

Depressing thought this Valentine’s Day: humans are hard-wired to perceive a scarcity of whatever it is they actually want.

800_licudine_broken_heart.jpg

Psychologists report that people will always feel that there isn’t enough of what they want to have: money, an attractive partner… The experiment used a reward/rule system to determine how people perceived the available opportunities to profit, and they were almost always conservatively pessimistic.

We probably have all felt this way at times, but it’s a little disconcerting to have it so blatantly proven, don’t you think? How can we be so … pathetic? 🙂