Why do we empathize? Researchers take on new perspective

Humans have a compulsion to simulate the activities and behaviors of others in their social group, but why is that? The findings of a new study may change the way that we understand empathy and phenomena of emotional and behavioral contagion.

Empathy is a complex occurrence that researchers sometimes define as “feeling concern for others [and] sharing and comprehending their emotions, prompting motivation to help them.”

While empathy may not always come naturally, it is related to other phenomena that occur mechanically and are tied to mirroring other people’s behaviors or emotions.

Full story at Medical News Today

Being Emotionally Unprepared for College Linked to Increased Risk of Substance Use

Students who are emotionally unprepared for college have lower grades, are more likely to use drugs and alcohol and are more likely to consider transferring to a different school, compared with their peers who are more emotionally prepared, a new poll finds.

The results indicate that college readiness requires much more than a solid academic foundation, according to John MacPhee, Executive Director of the JED Foundation, one of the organizations that released the results of the National Harris Poll. “These findings are a call to action about the college readiness process,” he said. “We need to consider students’ emotional preparedness when we help prepare students for their transition from high school into college.”

The poll of 1,502 first-year college students was also sponsored by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and The Jordan Porco Foundation.

Full story of college emotions and substance abuse at drugfree.org

Feeling bad at work can be a good thing (and vice versa)

Research by the University of Liverpool suggests that, contrary to popular opinion, it can be good to feel bad at work, whilst feeling good in the workplace can also lead to negative outcomes.

In a Special Issue published in Human Relations, Dr Dirk Lindebaum from the University’s Management School, together with his co-author Professor Peter Jordan, developed a new line of study, and commissioned research to further explore the role of emotions in the workplace.

They found that the commonly-held assumption that positivity in the workplace produces positive outcomes, while negative emotions lead to negative outcomes, may be in need for reconsideration. This is partly due to this assumption failing to take into account the differences in work contexts which effect outcomes.

Full story of feeling bad being a good thing at Science Daily

Stress less: Keys to a calmer existence

It’s one of the greatest ironies of life: We’re too frantically busy to deal with the stuff that makes us feel frantically busy — the to-do’s that overwhelm us, the clutter that eats up our homes, the niggling personal and professional issues that preoccupy our minds.

Tackling them might feel like a someday project, the kind you’ll get around to when you have the time. Right.

The key to a calmer existence, experts say, is finding bite-size, everyday solutions for stressors and releasing what we can, be it physical or psychological clutter.

“When you start to let go, your life lightens up because you have less to think about and less to maintain,” says Geralin Thomas, a professional organizer in Cary, North Carolina. “You finally feel in control.”

The payoffs don’t end there — you can sharpen your focus and even lose weight, too. These are the strategies that will ease your load and let you enjoy life a lot more.

Clear your schedule

As we juggle it all, we’re often fueled by an I-can-do-it! sense of pride. But we might be deluding ourselves, suggests a study in the Journal of Communication that found that people misperceive the emotional high they get from multitasking as productivity.

Full story of having a calming existence at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Older Adults Gauge Their Partner’s Feelings Through Knowing, Not Seeing

Compared to younger adults, older people are less adept at reading emotion in their spouse’s face. But when their spouse isn’t present, older and younger adults are equally able to discern their significant others’ moods.

These findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest that older adults retain the ability to make accurate judgments about others’ emotions using their acquired knowledge, but not sensory cues.

“When judging others’ emotions in real life, people do not exclusively rely on emotional expressions,” says lead researcher Antje Rauers of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany. “Instead, they use additional information, such as accumulated knowledge about a given situation and a particular person.”

To investigate how these two processes vary with age, Rauers and colleagues Elisabeth Blanke and Michaela Riediger recruited 100 couples, some of whom were between the ages of 20 and 30 and some of whom were between the ages of 69 and 80. When they came to the lab, Rauer and colleagues first showed various faces to the participants, asking them to identify particular emotions.

Full story of gauging feelings through knowing at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education