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September 24, 2012
In this Issue
• Making People Sign Forms at the Top May Keep Them Honest
• Adults See Some Teen Bullying as Less Serious: Survey
• Where You Live May Boost Your Sense of Well-Being
• Flip-Flop? People Can Change Moral Positions and Not Know It



Making People Sign Forms at the Top May Keep Them Honest

Signing first triggers people's self-awareness, making it harder for them to cheat, study finds

FRIDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- When people sign their name at the top of a form, they are more likely to fill it out honestly than if they sign at the bottom after it's complete, new research shows.

This suggests that when people sign their name and vouch for the accuracy of the information, their sense of morals is activated, the researchers from the University of Toronto explained. As a result, it is more difficult for them to cheat.

"Based on our previous research we knew that an honor code is useful, but we were wondering how much the location mattered," Nina Mazar, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, said in a university news release.

To investigate this issue, the study authors conducted an analysis of more than 13,000 car insurance policy forms involving 20,000 cars. They found customers who signed the form at the top reported nearly 2,500 miles more usage than those who signed at the bottom. This amounts to a discrepancy of at least $48 per car in annual insurance premiums.

Signing a form at the top first triggers people's self-awareness, making it harder for them to avoid facing their own dishonest behavior, the researchers explained. They noted, however, that people who already know they are going to be honest will be unaffected by when or where they sign their name.

"There are so many temptations around us," Mazar noted. "Sometimes we do give in."

The paper was published online and in the Sept. 18 print issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about competition and cheating  External Links Disclaimer Logo.




Adults See Some Teen Bullying as Less Serious: Survey

But isolating peers or spreading rumors can have real consequences, expert says

FRIDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- While U.S. adults believe that bullying is a major health problem for children, they have different views about which types of bullying behavior should spur schools to take action, a new survey finds.

In the nationwide poll of more than 2,100 people 18 and older, 95 percent of respondents said schools should take action if one student makes another student afraid for his or her physical safety.

Eighty-one percent said schools should step in when someone humiliates or embarrasses another student, and 76 percent believed intervention should occur when someone spreads rumors.

Only 56 percent of respondents said schools should take action when students socially isolate a peer, according to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital poll, which was conducted in May.

The survey also found that 90 percent of respondents said that threatening another student's physical safety is bullying, 62 percent said embarrassing or humiliating a student is bullying, 59 percent said spreading rumors about a student is bullying and 48 percent said isolating a student socially is bullying.

"The key finding from this poll is that adults don't see behaviors across the bullying spectrum as equivalent," poll director Dr. Matthew Davis, an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine as well as of public policy, said in a university news release.

"This is concerning because isolating a student socially is considered to be a form of bullying, and a dangerous one," he noted. "Isolating a student socially may be linked to episodes of school violence and also teen suicide."

Twenty percent of high school students report that they have been the victims of bullying, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"As school starts, this is the perfect time of year to have conversations about how each school can find solutions to the problems of bullying and address this important childhood health problem," Davis said.

More information

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has more about bullying.




Where You Live May Boost Your Sense of Well-Being

Mental health improved when families moved from very poor neighborhoods, study found

THURSDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- When families were given vouchers to move from impoverished neighborhoods to ones that were less poor, the adults in those families experienced lasting improvements in mental health and well-being, new research says.

And, these improvements occurred even though the adults weren't making significantly more money after their move.

"If you take a family in a high poverty neighborhood and move them to an area where the poverty level is about 13 percent less than where they're currently living, the increase in happiness is about equal to the gain in happiness from a rise of about $13,000 in income," said study author Jens Ludwig, the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

And, since the average income was only around $13,000 to start with, the equivalent of a $13,000 increase in income would have a huge impact, she added.

Results of the study are published in the Sept. 21 issue of the journal Science.

Nearly 9 million Americans live in neighborhoods with extreme poverty, according to background information in the study. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) started a program called Moving To Opportunity for almost 5,000 people living in low-income public housing in extremely impoverished areas. The hope was that moving families from very poor neighborhoods to areas with less poverty would improve the overall quality of life. Cities included in the program included Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

A previous study from this program examined the effect of neighborhood on obesity and type 2 diabetes risk, and found that women who moved to areas with less poverty were 19 percent less likely to be obese and 22 percent less likely to have type 2 diabetes.

For the new study, families were entered into a lottery that randomly selected three groups. One group was given housing vouchers only if they moved to an area where less than 10 percent of the people were living in poverty. The second group received housing vouchers with no restrictions, and the final group received no intervention.

The study included 3,273 people from the original HUD program. About 2,100 were enrolled in one of the voucher groups and just over 1,100 were in the control group that received no intervention.

The average age of the adults in 2007 was 44 for both groups. About two-thirds of the groups were black and the other third were Hispanic. When the program began, about two-thirds had never married, and only one-third had a high school diploma. The average household income was just under $13,000 (adjusted to 2009 dollars).

When the study began, almost half of those interviewed said they were very dissatisfied with their neighborhood, and just over 40 percent reported that a household member had been a crime victim in the previous six months, according to the study. The overwhelming reason cited for wanting to move was to get away from gangs and drugs.

On average, people who received vouchers lived in neighborhoods with 31 percent of residents in poverty, compared to the control group which lived with 40 percent of residents in poverty.

Despite this relatively small difference, those who received the vouchers had better overall physical and mental health, according to the study. They also reported greater well-being or happiness. And, these changes occurred even though those living in less poor areas didn't see significant changes in economic self-sufficiency, welfare receipt or employment, the study found.

"People thought that neighborhood environments didn't matter that much -- that income was the only factor that really matters. But, money doesn't necessarily buy happiness. There are lots of other aspects that are important -- like safety -- that can improve quality of life. Neighborhood environments matter for poor families, even if they don't improve their income," said Ludwig.

Robert Sampson, a professor in the department of sociology at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, said: "Poverty is a very sticky problem. There's a persistent hierarchy of neighborhoods and they're often separated by race and income. In really poor neighborhoods, vast opportunities are closed off and unattainable.

"Yet, the vouchers did help," added Sampson, author of an accompanying editorial in the journal. Although they didn't necessarily improve economic outcomes, they did improve well-being and physical health, he said.

Both experts pointed out that income segregation in neighborhoods has become an increasing problem. They feel that moving significant numbers of people out of those neighborhoods probably wouldn't be feasible or effective.

"One of the key goals is to try to identify the characteristics that could improve people's well-being without moving them. If you look at the baseline surveys, three quarters said that crime was why they wanted to move. They wanted to get away from gangs and drugs," Ludwig said. "So, moving people into safer neighborhoods, or increasing the safety in the neighborhoods where they live, is at least one of the things that's important for happiness and well-being."

More information

Read more about poverty and mental health from the American Psychological Association  External Links Disclaimer Logo.




Flip-Flop? People Can Change Moral Positions and Not Know It

Swedish researchers found individuals unknowingly argue opposing viewpoints

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- People can easily change a moral view about a difficult topic without even realizing it, a new study finds.

Swedish researchers asked participants to complete a survey about moral issues. To do so, the participants had to flip over the first page of questions, which was displayed on a clipboard.

But the back of the clipboard had a patch of glue that caught the top layer of the questions. So when the page was flipped back over, an opposite version of the original questions was revealed but the participant's answers remained unchanged.

This meant that the participants' responses were opposite to their originally declared moral positions, the study authors said.

When the researchers discussed the participants' answers with them, they found that many people supported their answers, even though their responses were actually opposite to their original views.

The "participants often constructed coherent and unequivocal arguments supporting the opposite of their original position," suggesting "a dramatic potential for flexibility in our moral attitudes," wrote study leader Lars Hall, of Lund University, and colleagues.

The study was published Sept. 19 in the online journal PLoS One.

The findings "could have significant impact on research that uses self-reported questionnaires. Either we would have to conclude that many participants hold no real attitudes about the topics we investigate, or that standard survey scales fail to capture the complexity of the attitudes people actually hold," Hall commented in a journal news release.

More information

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers a definition of morality  External Links Disclaimer Logo.

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