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Psychology Around the Net: November 17, 2018

Ever wonder if there’s an actual psychology behind our love of the taste of coffee? Why social media can increase loneliness, rather than combat it? If writing your own eulogy could help you sort out your life?

Wonder no more — it’s all here in this week’s Psychology Around the Net!

The Funny Psychology of Why We Love the Taste of Coffee: According to a new study from Northwestern University, those of us who love coffee aren’t less sensitive to its bitter taste (which, at first, would make sense); we’re actually more sensitive to it. Given our “inborn aversion towards bitterness, which is a defensive mechanism that prevents ingestion of poisonous food,” why would those of us who are more sensitive to the bitterness of coffee still love it? Hmm, ever heard of Pavlov’s dog?

New Evidence That Social Media Increases Loneliness: You might think that having a quick way to engage with family and friends — and even meet and connect with new people — would combat loneliness. However, that might not be the case for many people. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Melissa G. Hunt and her research team conducted a study focusing on social media platforms Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram and found that study participants who reduced their social media use reported decreased feelings of depression and loneliness.

Excessive Posting of Selfies Is Associated with Increase in Narcissism: In other social media news, a new study out of Swansea University states that excessively using social media, particularly posting selfies, is associated with an average of a 25% increase in narcissism. (Let’s not confuse that with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which Melody Wilding, a professor of human behavior at Hunter College, is quick to point out is different from narcissism.)

The Biggest Threat to Success Isn’t Failure — It’s Something Much Harder to Beat: We’re told creating good habits will help us stay healthy, reach life goals, conquer the universe. But what happens when your good habits become just plain boring?

This Scientist Has a Warning About the WEIRD Problem in Psychology Research: When it comes to research subjects, are we focusing too much on WEIRD people? You know, Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic? Yes, according to UC Santa Barbara anthropologist Michael Gurven, and he has some arguments on why this needs to change.

Write Your Eulogy to Figure Out Your Life: Sounds pretty morbid at first, but if you’re up for it, using these instructions to write your “first eulogy” and “future eulogy” could actually help you sort out whatever’s not quite right (read: not quite what you want happening or not happening) in your life.

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