human behavior

Javie Delgado, Flickr Creative Commons

It's hard to improve on the poet, Rilke, who wrote, "Love consists of this, that two solitudes meet, protect, and greet each other." But did Rilke have to deal with Angry Birds and Snap Chat?

Anna Fox / Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago, I was sick with the April flu, lying in bed in a New York apartment, and trying to distract myself by watching one of the film adaptations of "Nicholas Nickleby." I found myself repeatedly moved to tears, especially when anything good or kind happened. Okay, part of this was that I felt a little vulnerable, and may have over identified with poor tubercular Smike. But another part, I'm convinced, was the excitement generated by pure moral language, which you don't encounter so much in modern culture.

Krystal International Vacation Club / Creative Commons

Research shows that using your vacation time can have some major benefits. For one, it’s better for productivity, and -- as one study shows -- it can even be better for your health. But are Americans taking enough time off, or are we really a "no-vacation nation"? 

Roxanne Ready / Flickr Creative Commons

Take a few seconds to reminisce about your childhood "best friend." Maybe it was a boy, a girl, an imaginary friend, or perhaps a stuffed toy. This stuffed toy was your childhood confidant that you dragged everywhere, from the local supermarket to the preschool sandbox, a transitional object that temporarily stood between you and your relationship with your parents. 

Chronic stress is hazardous to health and can lead to early death from heart disease, cancer and of other health problems. But it turns out it doesn't matter whether the stress comes from major events in life or from minor problems. Both can be deadly.

And it may be that it's not the stress from major life events like divorce, illness and job loss trickled down to everyday life that gets you; it's how you react to the smaller, everyday stress.

The most stressed-out people have the highest risk of premature death, according to one study that followed 1,293 men for years.

Four years ago, Angela Stimpson agreed to donate a kidney to a complete stranger.

"The only thing I knew about my recipient was that she was a female and she lived in Bakersfield, Calif.," Stimpson says.

It was a true act of altruism — Stimpson risked pain and suffering to help another. So why did she do it? It involved major surgery, her donation was anonymous, and she wasn't paid.

"At that time in my life, I was 42 years old. I was single, I had no children," Stimpson says. "I loved my life, but I would often question what my purpose is."

Carnie Lewis/flickr creative commons

If you need a pick me up, join us for stories about strangers who were unexpectedly kind or generous. Call us if you were inspired to "pay it forward," or surprised to be the recipient of someone's generosity: 203-776-9677.

We all know which kid Mom and Dad liked best, and odds are you're thinking it's not you.

But does that really make a difference? It can, researchers say, but not always the way you might think.

Less-favored children are more likely to be using drugs, alcohol and cigarettes as teenagers, according to researchers at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

But what matters is not how the parents actually treat the children, but how the kids perceive it.

For those who find themselves sleeping through work — you may one day find yourself working through sleep.

People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions, according to a study by researchers in France. They think this may help explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise.

Kids And Screen Time: What Does The Research Say?

Aug 28, 2014

Kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens, and it may be inhibiting their ability to recognize emotions, according to new research out of the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Respected researcher and psychologist John Mayer says we can become the best version of ourselves by building our “personal intelligence” to understand ourselves and perceive what makes others tick.

No doubt some of the autograph seekers leaning across the fence straining for the baseball players' attention were in it for the money.

I suppose a baseball signed by the right person is worth something. Others were collectors working to complete their sets.

But most of us clumped up along the side of the dugout were fans — and our motives were of an entirely different nature.

Well, to be accurate, I wasn't begging for autographs. My kids were. I was there as a chaperone.

Krystal International Vacation Club / Creative Commons

Research shows that using your vacation time can have some major benefits. For one, it’s better for productivity, and -- as one study shows -- it can even be better for your health. But are Americans taking enough time off, or are we really a "no-vacation nation"? 

At age 4, many young children are just beginning to explore their artistic style.

The kid I used to babysit in high school preferred self-portraits, undoubtedly inspired by the later works of Joan Miro. My cousin, a prolific young artist, worked almost exclusively on still lifes of 18-wheelers.

Chion Wolff

Here's my theory just in case I don't get a chance to say it during the show: I think food has become more like sports. People kind of root for things. Ted Allen and Anthony Bourdain are more like sport stars than people whom you would seek out for actual cooking information. People go to Chelsea Market just because they know the Food Network is somewhere upstairs. And, because of that, there's a lot more pressure on food to be exciting. When you pick up the sports pages you want news, not just the same old same old. So, driven by that pulse and a group of media engines that flow alongside it, we always have new things to cheer for. Yay bacon salt! Go gastropubs! Today on the show: where food trends come from and why they succeed, or fail. 

Kevin Hutchinson / Creative Commons

"What is your value to the world or to anything if you're not useful?" asked M.E. Thomas, a self-proclaimed sociopath, and author of Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight, on The Colin McEnroe Show Thursday. She continued, "It gets to the fundamental question of what makes humanity valuable, and why we should treat anyone as a person."

Ben Newton / Creative Commons

We cover a lot of the ground on The Scramble this hour. We starting with Maria Konnikova, a New Yorker writer, who’s going to lead me through a conversation about proposals for a drastically reduced work week, about ways in which having more choices may actually reduce our sense of happiness and fulfillment, and about the illusion that we can taste something—wine, in this case —in a state of pure isolation and detachment from outside influences. 

If there's a single invention that helped shape New York City, literally, it might be the elevator. Along with steel frame construction, the elevator allowed New York City to grow up.

But according to architect David Burney, former New York City commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction, it's time to celebrate the steps.

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As we can see from a recent Planet Money story on NPR, millions of people are quitting their jobs each month, and Janet Yellen of The Fed thinks this is a good sign. She says if people are quitting in high numbers, that signals they're sure better jobs are available. In other words, a strong signal for the economy.

In the waiting room at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital, an Israeli woman was shouting at a Palestinian mother whose son was being treated for a beating he received from a Jewish mob.

"Go away you trash," the Israeli woman yelled at the Palestinian. "I would bury you in Gaza."

A second Israeli woman joined in the verbal barrage, complaining that her taxes shouldn't be paying for Palestinian treatment.

Two other Israeli women came over to comfort the Palestinian mother. But she is in no mood for reconciliation and retorted: "What good will your apologies do?"

Chion Wolff

The death of handwriting could be viewed as the end of a tyranny. Especially for those of us who were unable to learn penmanship. That includes me. I’m pretty sure that no teacher I ever had got training in how to teach cursive to a left handed person for whom the process really is radically different. I arrived at college to find halls full of desks from which a small writing area protruded from the right side. I often took two hour exams at those desks, scrawling essay question answers in a blue book with my body twisted around uncomfortably.

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On average, 14 people die each year in Connecticut as a result of intimate partner violence. There have been 188 intimate partner homicides in the state since the year 2000.

These are among the statistics in this year's annual report by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Take a few seconds to reminisce about your childhood "best friend." Maybe it was a boy, a girl, an imaginary friend, or perhaps a stuffed toy. This stuffed toy was your childhood confidant that you dragged everywhere, from the local supermarket to the preschool sandbox, a transitional object that temporarily stood between you and your relationship with your parents. 

Bruce Szalwinski / Creative Commons

Imagine two people. One of them is named Betsy Kaplan, the other, Betsy F.P.R. Academic studies suggest people, on average, would infer a higher intellectual capacity for Betsy F.P.R. Kaplan and be more likely to admire her and think she made more money than plain old Betsy Kaplan. A middle initial, says the scholarly literature, is basically a free ticket to higher status. 

Which makes it odd that each successive generation is less likely, overall, to use them. 

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The "doyenne of civility," Judith Martin, a.k.a. Miss Manners, has decided that the fast-changing modern workplace could use some tips on what is and is not okay. And she delivers it in her characteristic dry, witty way, in the book she has co-authored with her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, Miss Manners Minds Your Business.

Ryan Block, whose hilariously tedious customer service experience with Comcast struck a chord with millions, says the customer service rep who harangued him should not be fired.

In the land that came up with the phrase "Thank God it's Friday," and a restaurant chain to capitalize on the sense of relief many feel as the work week ends, researchers made an unusual finding in 2012.

Moms who worked full time reported significantly better physical and mental health than moms who worked part time, research involving more than 2,500 mothers found. And mothers who worked part time reported better health than moms who didn't work at all.

The Colin McEnroe Show is working on a show all about stuffed animals: the history of being attached, or developing a sentiment towards an object that comforts; the business of building them, and the awesome stories people have about their precious squishy toys.

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This hour: the way the thoughts we have and the decisions we make are influenced by forces that aren't always in our control.

Thangaraj Kumaravel/flickr creative commons

Celebrate someone you know, even a stranger who offered some kindness. Was a nurse or doctor there for you, a teacher, a neighbor, your mate, or a friend? Today we pay tribute and remember the goodness of ordinary people.

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