Choking under pressure is not for women

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Are Women Better Decision Makers?

Recently, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said that if we want to fix the gridlock in Congress, we need more women. Women are more focused on finding common ground and collaborating, she argued. But there’s another reason that we’d benefit from more women in positions of power, and it’s not about playing nicely. Neuroscientists have uncovered evidence suggesting that, when the pressure is on, women bring unique strengths to decision making. Mara Mather, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, and Nichole R. Lighthall, a cognitive neuroscientist now at Duke University, are two of the many researchers who have found that under normal circumstances, when everything is low-key and manageable, men and women make decisions about risk in similar ways. ….[READ]

Are new payment technologies providing too much liquidity?

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Will Apple Pay Make Us Broke?

For those with enough money to take advantage of them, new payment technologies like Apple Pay, Baidu Eye and Amazon’s Firefly could offer unprecedented convenience. But some observers worry that the ability to buy stuff out in the physical world almost as easily as you can currently buy e-books on Amazon might leave consumers bankrupt and unfulfilled. At Slate, Ariel Bogle wonders whether the “frictionless consumption” offered by these technologies will encourage overspending. She quotes the business professor Eric Johnson, who says, “The more you disconnect spending from physical spending, also known as ‘decoupling,’ the more you’re likely to spend.” He notes that Apple Pay, like credit cards, may have such a decoupling effect. ….[READ]

Why Traders Need Stories

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When a Stock Market Theory Is Contagious

Since Sept. 18, the stock market has fallen more than 6 percent. An abrupt decline last week — after five years of gains — prompted fears that the market may have reached a major turning point. Has a bear market begun? It’s a great question. The problem is that short-term market movements are extremely hard to forecast. But we live in the present and must try to understand what’s driving markets now, even if it’s much easier to predict their behavior over the long run. Fundamentally, stock markets are driven by popular narratives, which don’t need basis in solid fact. True or not, such stories may be described as “thought viruses.” When they are pernicious, they are analogous to the Ebola virus: They spread by contagion. ….[READ]

Are beacons behavioral?

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Businesses Are Turning to Beacons, and It’s Going to Be O.K.

The beacons are here. And they might not be all bad. Beacons, tiny low-powered radio transmitters that send signals to phones just feet away, have quickly become a new front in the advertising industry’s chase to find you whenever, and exactly wherever, you are. Although most consumers are just learning about these devices, tens or even hundreds of thousands of them have been installed across the country: outdoors on buildings, inside stores and even at National Football League and Major League Baseball stadiums. The point of the devices is to send a specific signal, using low-energy Bluetooth, to phones that come into proximity, as long as those phones are running apps that can respond to the beacon. …[READ]

The social dimension of obesity

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Why eating with other people makes us fat

Eating with other people is fattening. This has been demonstrated by umpteen scientists who have our collective waistlines at heart. Take the “fat suit study” (as it is informally known), just published in the latest issue of the journal Appetite. A team of psychologists, led by Mitsuru Shimizu at Southern Illinois University, found that people ate 31.6% more pasta and 43.5% less salad when in the company of an overweight person, irrespective of how healthy the overweight person’s food servings were. The experiment was following up on a hypothesis, explains Shimizu, that “the goal to eat healthily is deactivated by eating with someone who is overweight”. “ ….[READ]

Fear is not a weakness

Members of Red Cross arrive with the body of Marie Conde, 14, who died from Ebola, for burial in Koundony, Guinea.

The Fear Equation

In early March of 2003, when SARS swept into Hong Kong from Southern China, the streets of one of the world’s most densely populated areas were practically deserted. Venders in kiosks sold face masks and hand sanitizer to anyone brave, or foolish, enough to leave home. The fear of a new highly contagious disease is understandable, and, with no effective treatment or vaccine for SARS, it was difficult to know what to do. The World Health Organization recommended that officials in the countries most affected warn people with a fever to stay off international flights. Hong Kong went further, using infrared scanners and thermometers to take the temperature of more than thirty-six million passengers as they arrived. ….[READ]