Machos nachos

People prefer food that comes in sexist packaging

Putting unhealthy food in macho masculine packaging, or healthy food in feminine-themed packaging, makes it taste nicer, and people are willing to pay more for it. That’s according to a new study published in Social Psychology which finds that, at least in the US, cultural beliefs about gender and food are so entrenched that people actually prefer food that’s packaged in an apparently sexist way. While there is in fact some evidence that men on average do prefer naughtier dinner options like red meat and that women more often prefer fruit and veg, it is of course ridiculously presumptuous to assume that all men prefer fattening food and that all women prefer slimming food. ….[READ]


Is altruism innate?

Adults drop their wallets next to kids to see what they will do. It’s a beautiful experiment.

Are kids born with a sense of right and wrong? Or is that something we develop along the way? This magical button delivers Upworthy stories to you on Facebook: I certainly spent much of my childhood selfishly yelling, “Finders keepers, losers weepers!” or “It’s mine, I found it first!” — anything to claim victory before my sister beat me to it. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only little kid who wanted to keep things for myself no matter the cost. (Right, guys?) In an utterly adorable social experiment, the Japanese Red Cross put little kids’ kindness to the test. ….[READ]


Are the poor lazy?

Economists tested 7 welfare programs to see if they made people lazy. They didn’t.

For as long as there have been government programs designed to help the poor, there have been critics insisting that helping the poor will keep them from working. But the evidence for this proposition has always been rather weak. And a recent study from MIT and Harvard economists makes the case even weaker. Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Gabriel Kreindler, and Benjamin Olken reanalyzed data from seven randomized experiments evaluating cash programs in poor countries and found “no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work.” Attacking welfare recipients as lazy is easy rhetoric, but when you actually test the proposition scientifically, it doesn’t hold up. ….[READ]

insurance (1)

Racial biases in insurance market

How to Get Cheaper Car Insurance: Be White

As something that tens of millions of American driver are required by law to pay for every month, auto insurance is one thing that most people believe should be priced fairly. It doesn’t offend notions of fairness for a bad driver to face steeper premiums, and it’s accepted practice in the industry to include customers’ age and gender in computing their rate. But what if insurance companies appear to be systematically charging entire racial or socioeconomic groups different amounts for the same product? ….[READ]


Awareness matters

The Limits of ‘Intuitive’ Eating

People hate counting and cutting calories. That unsurprising fact is behind the rise of ‘‘intuitive’’ eating, an approach that de-emphasizes dieting in favor of attending to bodily signals, like feelings of hunger and, more important, fullness. Despite an outpouring of related books and seminars, and the advocacy of some obesity specialists, intuitive eating — referred to by some as ‘‘mindful’’ eating — has not been subject to much independent scientific investigation. A recent study, however, offers one of the first head-to-head comparisons of the effectiveness of calorie restriction and intuitive eating. ….[READ]


Feel nothing, do nothing

How to *Use* Human Behavior to Change Human Behavior

Joss Tantram of Terrafiniti started the final workshop of SB’15 London by simplifying the title of the session and calling it ‘old challenges, new tools,’ and giving us three change challenges to think about: Context: ‘Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge’ – Plato. People do not make choices in a vacuum – they make them based on what is available. When it comes to choosing a sustainable product, only 13-17 percent of people will make a choice that is not easy. …[READ]


Is food like crack?

Obesity Is Not Like Being “Addicted to Food”

Is it possible to be “addicted” to food, much like an addiction to substances (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, opiates) or behaviors (gambling, shopping, Facebook)? An extensive and growing literature uses this terminology in the context of the “obesity epidemic”, and looks for the root genetic and neurobiological causes (Carlier et al., 2015; Volkow & Bailer, 2015). Figure 1 might lead you to believe that the term “food addiction” was invented in the late 2000s by NIDA. But this term is not new at all, as Adrian Meule (2015) explained in his historical overview, Back by Popular Demand: A Narrative Review on the History of Food Addiction Research. Dr. Theron G. Randolph wrote about food addiction in 1956 (he also wrote about food allergies). ….[READ]