Discovered: Conservatives prefer Kleenex® to tissues; relationship stress makes you susceptible to illness; gene therapy cures diabetes in dogs; warm weather can cloud the mind.
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Political orientation influences supermarket behavior. Republican or Democrat. Romney or Obama. Tide or store-brand detergent. Our inclinations in the polling booth may influence our choices in the supermarket, according to a new study led by Vishal Singh of New York University's Stern School of Business. Tapping into the psychology behind our political leanings, psychologists have found that conservatives tend to favor recognizable name-brands over generic products. Singh and colleagues studied purchases from 2001 to 2006 at 1,800 grocery stores across the U.S., finding that name-brand products sell better in counties with conservative majorities. "These tendencies are consistent with traits typically associated with conservatism, such as aversion to risk, skepticism about new experiences, and a general preference for tradition, convention, and the status quo," the researchers write. [Association for Psychological Science]
Love-life anxiety lowers your immunity. If your relationship is on the rocks, you might want to carry around some hand sanitizer and avoid sneezing people. Because people are more susceptible to catching an illness when they're anxious about our closest relationships, according to a new study led by Lisa Jaremka of Ohio State University's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. Jaremka and her colleagues had married couples answer questions about their relationship, and they compared their answers with the cortisol levels from saliva and blood samples. Cortisol, an important stress-related hormone, was higher in partners who were more concerned about rejection and attachment. These anxious subjects also had 11 to 22 percent fewer immune system-boosting T cells, making them more susceptible to catching an infection. [Science Daily]
Five dogs are diabetes-free thanks to gene therapy. Though a diabetes cure for human remains an experimental challenge, Spanish researchers have successfully treated diabetes in dogs through gene therapy. The canine subjects haven't needed insulin shots for four years following a procedure that placed two extra genes in the dogs' leg muscles via a harmless virus. These genes help regulate glucose in the bloodstream, correcting for diabetes' crippling effect on insulin production. Genetic research for a diabetes cure has been going on for years, but this is "the first [study] to show a long-term cure for diabetes in a large animal," according to lead researcher Fàtima Bosch of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. [New Scientist]
Hot weather makes your brain lazy. Hot weather doesn't just make people more prone to violence — it also hinders their thought processes. Scientific American's Adrian F. Ward reviews recent research into temperature's effect on decision-making, finding scientific evidence suggesting that warm weather reduces our ability to make tough decisions. One study shows that lottery ticket buyers are less likely to buy scratchers when it gets hotter, because purchasers have to choose between many different options. However, sales for single lotto tickets, which require less thought, go up with the heat. Other studies have found that subjects are worse at proofreading articles in a 77° Fahrenheit room than they are in a 67° room. In yet another experiment, participants placed under hot conditions were more likely to choose familiar products over innovative ones. In cooler climates, they had the mental fortitude to choose the less recognizable ones. [Scientific American]