Studies

Millennials All For Socialism, Don’t Know What It Means

According to new research, millennials like, dislike everything. Some of the things they think they like, they simply don’t understand, like socialism: “Only 16% of millennials can accurately define socialism, making it less surprising that up to 42% prefer socialism and 52% favor capitalism.”

Possible definitions of socialism, according to the millennials surveyed: 1) soft-serve ice cream; 2) kittens playing in a box; 3) rain that only falls at night; 4) small, affordable cities with good weather, a cultural scene, public transportation, and available jobs; 5) teleportation.

Anyway, who really knows how to define socialism vs. capitalism? If we pop quizzed you, would you satisfy the test-takers? What’d you get on your Socialism AP Test, huh, smart guy?

Here are some more awesome results

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How Americans Think About Fairness and the Economy

There is massive new Pew Research Center poll (185 glorious pdf pages) that dissects the attitudes of Americans on all sorts of things. There is much to mull over, starting with the study’s division of the American populace into eight ideological groups: Solid Liberals (all left all the time; like me, more or less), Steadfast Conservatives (fiscally and socially conservative), Business Conservatives (corporatist, but not so down on gays and immigrants), Young Outsiders (socially liberal Republicans), Hard-Pressed Skeptics (left-leaning, working class, disillusioned), Next-Generation Liberals (like the Solid Liberals, but unconvinced of the need for social programs or anti-discrimination legislation), Faith and Family Left (like the Solid Liberals, but homophobic), and (boringly) Bystanders, who are what they sound like: disengaged and uninformed.

These groups break down mostly as you’d expect (although the right is more polarized than the left). The study is full of charts that show the spread of each group’s opinions across some typical left-right divide, and they all pretty much look like this one:

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What Correlates To Productivity in Kids And Nations Alike?

Surprise, surprise: Kids whose time is less structured are better able to meet their own goals, and the most productive nation, for the fifth year in a row, is Switzerland, where employees enjoy 28 days of federally mandated vacation time. What can we learn from these two news items, especially together?

1) Take your vacation days. That’s what they’re for, if you’re lucky enough to get them at all. Obvious? Not to most Americans:

Because America leaves firms to their own devices on break policy, the amount of PTO (paid time off) Americans get varies vastly between socioeconomic classes. Only half of low-wage workers (bottom one-fourth of earners) have any paid vacation, the study found. Compare that to 90% of high-wage workers (top one-fourth of earners): The 77% of Americans who do get paid vacation time get an average of 13 days. … working too hard is making us stressed, sick and disengaged from our jobs, says Brigid Schulte in the Washington Post. We rank in the bottom section of the work-life balance scale from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. But part of the blame can be placed on the American workforce itself: Only 56% of Americans take the vacation time that’s given to them, according to a study by the employment firm Hudson.

That’s maddening. If you’re not using your days, give them to me! I’m still only on episode 3 of the new season of “Orange is the New Black.”

2) Let your kids roam free and everyone wins. Less driving for you, more being driven — in an organic, internal way — for them.

Children who spend more time in less structured activities—from playing outside to reading books to visiting the zoo—are better able to set their own goals and take actions to meet those goals without prodding from adults, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder. The study, published online in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, also found that children who participate in more structured activities—including soccer practice, piano lessons and homework—had poorer “self-directed executive function,” a measure of the ability to set and reach goals independently.

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Leave Religion Off Your Resume, With One Big “Unless …”

Science, man. Always bringing us down. The ice caps are melting, the coral reefs are dying, restaurants are less safe than food trucks, everyone’s a little bit racist. The latest blow comes from UConn, where experts took some time off from cheering for their women’s basketball team to figure out whether resumes from job applications that list affiliations with campus religious groups get fewer responses than resumes that don’t. The short answer? Yes, with an “and.” (The “and” being that the effect held true for every religion tested, even a made-up faith, except one.)

Researchers at the University of Connecticut found that applicants who included a religious reference in their applications were less likely to get responses than those who did not, an effect that held true across most faiths. … The study used Catholic, evangelical Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, pagan and a made-up religion called Wallonian identities across different applications. All in all, résumés with a religion mentioned got 33% fewer responses than the completely secular ones.

There was one outlier — according to the report, résumés listing a Jewish affiliation received more responses than those listing other religions. “Not only did Jewish applicants not face discrimination but they also actually may have received preferential treatment by some employers — that is, they were more likely to receive an early, exclusive or solo response from employers, compared with all other religious groups combined,” the researchers wrote. “This suggests there is a subset of employers who show a preference for Jewish applicants.”

What’s going on here? Scientists don’t like to speculate — as bloggers, that’s our job — so they don’t draw any conclusions except, maybe, leave even your leadership role in your worship group off your resume if you want to get more calls. But we have some deeper thoughts.

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Does Worrying About Money Make You Better at Money?

Attention K-Mart shoppers! Worrying about money does not make you better at money. I repeat, worrying about money does not make you better at money.

The act of worrying actually hurts, not helps. … worrying about money hurts your ability to think clearly about everything else in your life. In a separate study, researchers found that financial worries affect cognitive abilities.

The article goes on to call fretting “a useless habit” that you might be able to curtail by asking yourself simple questions, like, “What am I really worried about? Is it something in my control?” and “If it’s not in my control, do I gain anything by worrying about it?” To which I say: … maybe. Some people are anxious! It’s a hard habit to shake and sometimes it goes deeper, into how we’re wired. But even leaving chemical imbalances aside, most of us who worry do not expect to gain anything by worrying; we worry because it’s how we interact with the world and the seemingly gleeful way it throws surprises at us.

Still, it can be freeing to hear Science say, in that resounding, definitive voice Science uses, that worrying doesn’t help. It allows us to say, “Why bother?” And then maybe say it again, with a smile, and again, until we begin to believe it. It’s kind of like how hearing that doing exercise you hate doesn’t make you thin. WHY BOTHER WHY BOTHER WHY BOTHER have an ice cream sandwich and take a yoga class instead.

Image via Lewis Minor

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The Cosbys are Happier than the Jetsons, and Have Better Sex Too

According to Role Reboot, which got the story from the Frisky, husbands are happier when their wives also bring home the bacon. Why not, right? Twice as much bacon! Or, since women are paid less, ~1.85x as much bacon, but still. All that bacon makes bedtime sizzle.

MONEY asked couples to subjectively rate their happiness in relationships, as well as report on the “hotness” of their sex life. Of couples where the wife earned as much or more than her husband, 83 percent reported they were happy or very happy (compared to 77 percent of couples where the wife earned no money or earned less). Couples with higher-earning wives also reported the best sex lives, with 51 percent attesting that what goes down between the bedsheets is “very good.”  But it wasn’t just the couples together who reported happiness. Men, specifically, said they were happy with their sex lives with high-earning women: fifty-six percent of those married to women who earned as much or more called their sex lives “very good” (compared to 43 percent when the wives earned less). These men also expressed more overall happiness.

Are the wives similarly thrilled? Not entirely:

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Crop Tops Cropped from College, Education = Reparations?, Academic Rejection vs Other Kinds

+ UT-Austin signs tell women how to dress so as not to be distracting and, according to Jezebel, crop tops are out.

Here are the things you cannot wear, if you want to learn to be a nurse at the University of Texas:

Midriff-baring shirts Short-shorts Low-rise pants Low-cut shirts that reveal cleavage

My K-12 religious school had a dress code that prohibited all of these things and I still feel funny if I wear them. My mind has been warped forever on the issue of modesty, which means I can’t be trusted to know whether this is egregious. Dress codes! Always unfair, if they’re only targeted at women? Justified in a context that has something to do with God, or taxes, or death? Can we trust students at a certain age to know how to dress appropriately and/or to not get life-threateningly distracted by a glimpse of skin?

+ Uh oh. STEM magic doesn’t work as well for black folks.

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Slut-Shaming Is About Class, Not Sex

Scientists love to give us data to tell us that what we already suspect is true: calories are not created equal; climate change is already cooking our planet and it’s our fault; and so on. Well, in case you’ve ever wondered whether slut-shaming, or bullying people, usually women, for their sexuality, is more about richer folks consolidating their in-group power at the expense of poorer, out-group folks, congratulations! The scientists say that you’re right. According to Al-Jazeera America, slut-shaming is more about class than sex:

Sociologists from the University of Michigan and the University of California at Merced occupied a dorm room in a large Midwestern university, regularly interacting with and interviewing 53 women about their attitudes on school, friends, partying and sexuality from the time they moved in as freshman and following up for the next five years.

The researchers discovered that definitions of “slutty” behavior and the act of slut-shaming was largely determined along class lines rather than based on actual sexual behavior. What’s more, they found the more affluent women were able to engage in more sexual experimentation without being slut-shamed, while the less-affluent women were ridiculed as sluts for being “trashy” or “not classy,” even though they engaged in less sexual behavior.

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Good Morning! Let’s Talk About Racism and Reparations

The Atlantic and New York Magazine present complementary features about racism in America. Jesse Singal points out that “Racism Doesn’t Work The Way You Think It Does” and Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of America’s foremost public intellectuals, makes “The Case for Reparations.” #longreads Get some coffee, take some deep yoga breaths, visualize our minds opening. OK. Ready?

Let’s start with NYM’s Singal and circle back to Coates later in the day when we’ve had a chance to fully digest his argument. Singal’s article points out that people in positions of power discriminate without meaning to, because they are more likely to help other folks like them:

an important new paper soon to be published in American Psychologist argues that “in present-day America, discrimination results more from helping ingroup members than from harming outgroup members.” In other words, racist outcomes can arise without much actual racism, simply through the very human tendency to help out people with whom you have something in common. …

Human beings have a deep, ages-old drive to help out those with whom they have something in common, even if it’s something as simple as living on the same street or going to the same church. The problem is that because of how stubbornly persistent segregation is in most facets of American life, “something in common” tends to have a racial component. In addition to putting these sorts of day-to-day experiences into a broader context, Greenwald and Pettigrew’s argument also helps explains why the national debate over race is so dysfunctional. If the question isn’t really about who is oppressing whom (whether explicitly or implicitly), but rather about how, through our acts of kindness, we are unwittingly driving segregation and other aspects of the racial divide, that’s a very different conversation, and potentially a less vitriolic one.

Is there anything to be done? The article doesn’t say, and neither do the psychologists themselves, at least not yet. But being conscious of the actions we take on a daily basis, and the unintentional way we prop up and perpetuate prejudicial systems, is a good first step.

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Finance Dads More Likely to Have Autistic Sons

Science, via Yahoo! Shine, has identified new risk factors for autism or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), like having a dad who makes bank.

Fathers who worked in finance were four times more likely to have a child on the autism spectrum than those with the nontechnical jobs (which could include those in media, education, or sales industries, for example). And those who worked in health care (working in a medical lab, for example) were six times more likely. A mother’s job held no association to autistic offspring unless both she and her husband worked in technical fields. In that case, their children were at a higher risk of developing a more severe case of autism.

Other correlations: “advanced” age of the father, “advanced” age of the mother, advanced age of the grandparents, parents’ educational levels and possibly socioeconomic status. I’ve now found studies that say high (in America) and low socioeconomic status (in Sweden) correlate with autism, so those might cancel each other out. Interesting questions remain. Do ASD clusters in highly-educated American communities like LA and San Francisco mean only that more parents there can afford to send their children to specialists for diagnosis? Do fathers with a high-functioning version of ASD themselves tend to work in certain lucrative fields, marry and reproduce later, and pass their genes on to their children? Are ASDs more common now that parents, especially well-educated and higher-income ones do on average wait longer to produce the next generation, since “advanced” age is a risk factor? Or do we just recognize the symptoms better now that we know what to look for?

FWIW, the costs of ASDs are considerable: “Harvard researchers estimate that the added costs of autism-related healthcare and education average more than $17,000 per child per year in the United States.”

Image via TaxCredits.net

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Because Anything is Cheaper than Divorce

Don’t get divorced. It’s an expensive, stressful process that makes an enemy out of the person you once chose above all others in front of your friends and family, people who, by the way, each spent $60-$300 on a wedding gift — and, most likely, much more on clothes, babysitters, travel, and lodging — to celebrate your deathless love.

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The Cable Cabal

We know much of what is wrong with cable TV. It’s paid for so there shouldn’t be commercials every five minutes and yet: ads, ads, ads. There are only a couple of companies that offer cable, so your options are Suck or Suckier. Worst of all, the ESPN catalog is super expensive and must be bundled together with hundreds of other channels no one wants in order to spread the cost around. Nielson ran a study to determine exactly how many of those hundreds of channels we watch, on average. The answer? 17.

Last year, U.S. cable subscribers got a record average of 189 channels in prepackaged bundles but watched only 17 of those channels, according to a report this week by Nielsen. And the appetite to view more channels, even when offered vastly more television content, hasn’t changed much in years. In five years, cable companies added 60 more channels for the typical subscriber, but viewers haven’t increased their consumption of new content. They have consistently watched an average of 17 channels.

Can you even name 17 channels? 17 is a goodly number. But 189 is way goodlier. Consumers are tired of it: “The top two cable television providers — Comcast and Time Warner Cable — lost a combined 1.1 million subscribers last year, according to a report by the Leichtman Research Group.” Follow their lead and unshackle yourself from this debacle. Freedom can be yours too! In the comments, people suggest their favorite work-arounds for a Cable Free life:

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