Where Thrill-Seekers Are Made, Not Born
What causes people to act as they do -- the way they're made, or the way they make, as they go through life? Often in the mind sciences, stable traits (what you are) or changing situations (what you are doing) are set against each other as explanations for our habits and follies.
Practically speaking, of course, you need both trait and situation to explain a person's behavior. But thinking in abstractions can help clarify how innate characteristics and accidental circumstances interact to make shape people's lives.
Consider alcohol: Drinking it is linked to risk-taking behavior in teen-agers (surprise, surprise). But what is cause there, and what is effect? Maybe heavy drinking inclines people to a taste for risk (a situational explanation). On the other hand, maybe an inborn love of risk causes some to drink a lot (a trait explanation).
Which fits best? That's a question research can answer. In a recent experiment, Nicholas A. Nasrallaha, Tom W. H. Yanga and Ilene L. Bernstein of the University of Washington created a population of hard-drinking adolescent rats by letting them have ``access to alcohol in a palatable gel matrix'' (better known on fraternity row as a ``jello shot''). Another bunch of rats had to be content with getting high on laboratory life -- no alcohol for them.
Later, both sets of rats were put on a normal, respectably sober diet. Then, the experimenters gave both groups a test of their appetite for risk. Each rat had to choose between pressing a lever that guaranteed two sugar pills or a lever that sometimes gave up four treats and sometimes paid nothing.
Even three months later (well into adulthood for your average rat, which lives about two years), the boozers were significantly more inclined to gamble on that all-or-nothing lever.
So in this lab, it's alcohol use that causes thrill-seeking, not the other way around. And it's not a temporary blip, either, but a long-lasting effect. Even a stable personality trait, it seems, can be rooted in a situation.
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.
- The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
- It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
- Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
- Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
- Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
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