Welcome to a whole new year of transgressions! While the “seven deadly sins” may seem a misty morality lesson from the past, the cardinal vices are always with us–even in the strait-laced arena of research. Hold on to your souls for a quick rundown of how recent findings reflect our sinful natures.
Forget the champagne and grab a beer. With black-tie awards balls and a strong cult following, beer is breaking away from its frat-boys-and-bowlers image to be restored to its former glory. Alas, fanatic popularity comes with a price—$1,300 to be exact. This number isn’t set by the breweries themselves, but rather by black-market profiteers who buy exclusive brews at the bar to resell on eBay. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that suds lovers can thwart the system: Drinkers of the beverage are better problem-solvers than their sober counterparts, researchers at the University of Illinois announced in April.
Slate’s Christian DeBenedetti hypothesizes the connection between big money and beer may stem from the beverage’s newfound sophistication—some brewers now treat their beer like wine, carefully cultivated into an aged and rich taste and served in 750-mil bottles. Microbreweries naturally release their unique blends in drips, leading a hyped crowd to obsess over the Internet to see if they missed their favorite beer being served at the bar.
Instead of secretly reading Fifty Shades of Grey on lunch break, go to American University and read the erotic novel for course credit. Taught by adjunct professor Stef Woods, the class will consider the novel’s depiction of violence, media hype, and its influence on American (presumably the country, not the university) sexuality.
With a love for elaborate buffets and banquets, Hong Kong threw out 3,600 tons of food waste a day in 2011. The city’s three landfills are nearing capacity, and the government and nonprofits like Friends of the Earth are brainstorming ways to combat the waste—ideas like recycling programs at local markets and increased charges for waste collection.
Merely labeling your mundane goal “a New Year’s resolution” increases its likelihood of success. Just beware of “ego depletion,” a term coined by social psychologist Roy R. Baumeister to describe the moment when willpower is exhausted.
Is the Chipmunks’ “Christmas Song” still lodged in your brain? Psychologists at Western Washington University may be able to help: In a paper titled “Going Gaga,” they recommend battling “earworms” by avoiding mental tasks that are too easy or too hard after hearing the song. These situations apparently either bore or exhaust your brain into a fertile breeding ground for misery-inducing earworms. The same psychologists hope the song studies can help us understand why intrusive thoughts occur and how to control them.
If only you were a smartphone. Think of the friends you’d have. A recent report by NPD finds that while there are 315 million people in the U.S., there are 425 million computers, tablets, game consoles and phones. Has anyone else seen Smart House . . .?
Who you are today may not be who you are next year, so don’t be so proud as to think you can’t change. A recent Harvard study demonstrates that although people recognize they have changed in the past, they underestimate how much they will change in the future. This can have practical consequences, such as causing people to pay for future opportunities because of current preferences. But don’t worry, that Forever Lazy® was definitely a great buy.