10th March 2019
The following, from PsyBlog and other sources, are some recent scientific finding that help us understand human behaviour.
A recent study has observed that using more pronouns like “I” and “me” are two signs that someone is depressed, new research finds.
Other words used in social media that might indicate depression include increased references to hostility and loneliness, like “feelings” and “tears”.
The study suggests computers may be able to spot the signs of depression just from social media posts.
The computer algorithm was just as effective as directly getting someone to complete a depression questionnaire, the study revealed.
Dr H. Andrew Schwartz, who led the research, said:
“What people write in social media and online captures an aspect of life that’s very hard in medicine and research to access otherwise.
It’s a dimension that’s relatively untapped compared to biophysical markers of disease.
Considering conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, for example, you find more signals in the way people express themselves digitally.”
The study used the Facebook posts of 1,175 people that were matched up with their medical records to confirm any depression diagnosis.
The computer was as effective at diagnosing depression as a self-report scale, the results showed
People who used more first-person pronouns like “I” were more likely to be depressed, as were those using phrases that suggested rumination and anxiety.
Dr Johannes Eichstaedt, the study’s first author, said:
“Social media data contain markers akin to the genome.
With surprisingly similar methods to those used in genomics, we can comb social media data to find these markers.
Depression appears to be something quite detectable in this way; it really changes people’s use of social media in a way that something like skin disease or diabetes doesn’t.”
Dr Schwartz said:
“There’s a perception that using social media is not good for one’s mental health, but it may turn out to be an important tool for diagnosing, monitoring, and eventually treating it.
The common drink linked to a lower IQ
Drinking higher levels of alcohol and binge drinking are both linked to a lower IQ, research finds. People with higher IQs tend to avoid binge drinking.
The conclusions come from a study of 49,321 Swedish men conscripted for military service between 1969 and 1971.
They were given IQ tests and asked about their alcohol intake.
The lower their IQ was, the more they drank and the more likely they were to binge drink.
It is not clear from the study exactly how IQ is linked to alcohol intake.
However, it is likely that lower IQ is linked to lower social status and emotional problems, both of which may drive higher rates of alcohol consumption.
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The study’s authors conclude:
“We found that lower results on IQ tests are associated with higher consumption of alcohol measured in terms of both total alcohol intake and binge drinking in Swedish adolescent men.”
People with higher IQs tend to be healthier, the authors explain:
“One suggested explanation for the association between intelligence and health is that cognitive skills enhance possibilities to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Cognitive ability has been found to be associated with several health-related behaviors, such as smoking, food intake, and physical activity.”
Previous studies have also linked binge drinking to lower IQ.
However, in that study, people with higher IQs had higher IQs had higher levels of average alcohol consumption.
The results fit with the fact that highly intelligent people are also more likely to use drugs.
It could be because the intelligent tend to be easily bored.
At the same time, though, they also led healthier lifestyles.
The divergence between the studies could be down to different populations.
The sleep pattern linked to being smarter
Sleeping between 7 and 8 hours a night is best for the brain, new research concludes. More or less sleep than this is linked to lower cognitive performance.
Half the people in the study, though, slept about an hour less than the recommended amount.
The brains of people who slept four hours or less were nine years older, cognitively. Over-sleeping was also linked to worse cognitive performance.
Professor Adrian Owen, the study’s first author, said:
“We really wanted to capture the sleeping habits of people around the entire globe.
Obviously, there have been many smaller sleep studies of people in laboratories but we wanted to find out what sleep is like in the real world.
People who logged in gave us a lot of information about themselves.
We had a fairly extensive questionnaire and they told us things like which medications they were on, how old they were, where they were in the world and what kind of education they’d received because these are all factors that might have contributed to some of the results.”
The results come from over 40,000 people around the world who completed a survey and cognitive tests
Lack of sleep — or too much — was bad for the brains of young and old just the same.
Dr Conor Wild, study co-author, said:
“We found that the optimum amount of sleep to keep your brain performing its best is 7 to 8 hours every night and that corresponds to what the doctors will tell you need to keep your body in tip-top shape, as well.
We also found that people that slept more than I nothat amount were equally impaired as those who slept too little.”
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