January 4, 2019

Weekend reads: When something is too cute, people can get aggressive. Here's why.

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Do you get cute aggressive? When people encounter something that they find extremely cute, it can trigger what scientists call "cute aggression." Researchers in a recent study investigated how the phenomenon works. In the study, researchers recorded the electrical activity in the brains of 54 young adults who were looking at images of animals and people. They found that the cuter the creature in the image, the greater the brain activity in areas involved with emotion, and the more cute aggression a person felt, the more activity occurred in the brain's reward system. Katherine Stavropoulos, a psychologist at the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Riverside, said, "It's not just reward and it's not just emotion." She added, "Both systems in the brain are involved in this experience of cute aggression."

    Maybe you don't need that standing desk after all. People burn more while standing than sitting or lying down—but the difference is small and unlikely to help you lose weight, according to a small study. For the study, researchers asked 46 people of normal weight to monitor how many calories they burned while sitting and standing. They also had the participants sit or stand for 20 minutes in different lab visits and measured their energy expenditure with masks that measured their metabolic rate. They found that people burned about 3% more calories when sitting compared with lying down, and about 12% more calories standing compared with sitting. That translates to about nine additional calories burned if a person stood for an hour instead of sitting, the researchers found.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    New dog, same tricks. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced plans to deploy more floppy-ear dogs—instead of pointy-ear ones—to search passengers for explosives. … Why? TSA believes floppy-eared dogs are less intimidating than pointy-ear dogs, according to TSA. "We find the passenger acceptance of floppy-ear dogs is just better," Pekoske said.

    Why you should be washing your avocados before you slice. Do you wash your avocado before you eat it? You should, according to FDA. The agency last month announced that a federal investigators' sampling found Listeria monocytogenes on about one in every five avocado peels—bacteria that could "hitc[h] a ride on your knife from the dark green avocado skin to the light green fleshy part," Zlati Meyer reports for USA Today. Based on these findings, the agency has advised consumers to wash avocados before they eat them.

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