human behavior

We all probably sort of knew this already, but a new map seems to show quite clearly that it doesn't take much snow to close schools in the Southern U.S. — and that it takes a lot to close them in the Northern half of the nation.

Fuse / Thinkstock

Women’s health is the next frontier for a team of medical researchers at Yale who believe video games can be powerful tools in the fight against HIV and other serious diseases.

For the last several years, Yale’s Play2Prevent lab has been a hub of collaboration between doctors and computer programmers testing the capacity of games to educate users and, perhaps, even change risky behavior. Their work is part of a fast-growing movement in public health to better understand how virtual gaming environments can improve players’ lives in the real world.

herval/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: 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.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

I spent one night in the company of James Carville and Mary Matalin, in the course of being their onstage moderator at the Bushnell. My lasting impression was that these were two people whose primary loyalty was to each other. To an unusual degree, when there was down time, they wanted to be alone, together, door closed. I don't know how they sort out their extreme political differences, but I think the answer lies somewhere in what I just said.

Shortening words, swapping them out, giving them different meanings — that's not new. Remember in Mean Girls when the queen bee character, Regina George, berated one of her underlings for trying to make the word "fetch" catch on?

Noah Strycker/iStock / Thinkstock

Rosalind Wiseman's book, Queen Bees and Wannabes, became a bestseller and was inspiration for the popular movie "Mean Girls." While the movie was hilarious and painful to watch, the book took a more serious look at new ways to understand girls’ social dynamics. 

A Tribute To Failure

Jan 8, 2014

In a society where success is pursued and celebrated above everything else, where media stars, sport champions and the very rich are idolized, failure is seen as an embarrassment, something we must avoid at all costs and, when we can't, must be hidden from everyone else.

Could a little red circle really make me bypass short ribs and mashed potatoes for some cod and rice instead? You've got to be kidding.

Well, a team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital sure think so — at least sometimes — and they have a study that backs them up.

It's research that hits close to home: Last April, when NPR moved into new headquarters, we got a snazzy new cafeteria. And little colored circles started popping up on menus.

Atlantic magazine editor Scott Stossel has countless phobias and anxieties — some you've heard of, others you probably haven't.

"There's a vast encyclopedia of fears and phobias," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "and pretty much any object, experience, situation you can think of, there is someone who has a phobia of it."

Ticktock. Ticktock. Ticktock.

The seconds left in 2013 are slipping away. And you know what else is slipping away? The seconds left in your life.

Luckily for you, there's a new product called Tikker, a wristwatch that counts down your life, so you can watch on a large, dot-matrix display as the seconds you have left on Earth disappear down a black hole.

Close your eyes and imagine the last time you fell in love. Maybe you were walking next to your sweetheart in a park or staring into each other's eyes over a latte.

Where did you feel the love? Perhaps you got butterflies in your stomach or your heart raced with excitement.

When a team of scientists in Finland asked people to map out where they felt different emotions on their bodies, they found that the results were surprisingly consistent, even across cultures.

Psychologist and former New York Times reporter Daniel Goleman presented us with an important idea - “Emotional Intelligence” - it challenges the old concept of IQ as the most important measure of one’s abilities.

But his newest research might be even more important for our current world - filled with multiple screens and distractions. It’s all about “Focus.”

About one-third of American adults say they have problems falling asleep. And prescriptions for sleeping medications are on the rise, with about 4 percent of people using the drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But sleep specialists say people should exercise caution before deciding to take medication to help them sleep.

Pete Souza / White House

Governor Dannel Malloy was quick to say that he didn't, and doesn't, want to make what happened in Newtown about him.

Still, on that day, Malloy was at the center of the story.  

As Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy sped from Hartford to Newtown nearly a year ago, the death toll kept rising. When he arrived on the scene, he found himself in charge — and it fell to him to answer the question: How long should family members have to wait to learn that their loved ones were gone?

Malloy decided that he was going to do what he thought was right. Still, standing in front of more than two dozen families gathered in a firehouse, he doubted that it was.

Sophfronia Scott

Sandy Hook resident Sophfronia Scott never asked to have these conversations, but since the shooting that left 20 students and six educators dead, they follow her. Like when she tells a person from out of town that she's from Sandy Hook.

"There's that stunned silence, and they say, 'Oh. Oh, those poor people. And how are you doing?'" said Scott. "I will tell them right away, because I know they want to ask, and if anything, I know they are afraid to ask. So I will say to them, 'Yes, I'm from Sandy Hook. Yes, my son attends the school. Yes, he was in the building.'"

The number of children being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And families increasingly are opting for medications to treat kids. Two-thirds of children with a current diagnosis are being medicated — a jump of 28 percent from 2007 to 2011.

This holiday season, the video game industry is looking to reignite sales as two game titans, Sony and Microsoft, launch the next generation of game consoles.

Their target demographic is the group of dedicated players known as hard-core gamers. Dive into the wide world of video game culture on YouTube and you'll hear that term being thrown about.

So what exactly is a hard-core gamer?

Chion Wolf

I've been writing a newspaper column for The Hartford Courant since 1982. For my first 15 years or so, I tended to write the column at The Hartford Courant. In the last ten years, I have written columns in the following places: a sports bar in San Francisco; a boat moving along the Rhine; the famous Brasserie Balzar in Paris; an outdoor clearing in the Yucatan jungle where, bizarrely, there was WiFi; and a living room in Kobe, Japan.

Anthropologist Lynne Isbell was running through a glade in central Kenya in 1992 when something suddenly caused her to freeze in her tracks. "I stopped just in front of a cobra," she says. "It was raised with its hood spread out."

Isbell, who is at the University of California, Davis, says she has spent the past couple of decades trying to understand how she could have reacted before her conscious brain even had a chance to think — cobra!

Losing It On The Air

Oct 18, 2013
Pulse12, Flickr Creative Commons

I don't know why we love it so much when anyone in front of a live audience loses their composure and bursts out into laughter. Maybe because it shows them for what they really are - human. It's so fascinating to witness a spontaneous surrender to, well, giddiness, and because of good ol' fashioned empathy, we can't help but laugh along. 

Starr Cookman and Kylee Moreland Fenton have been inseparable since childhood. They live on the same street. Kylee, a nurse, was present for the delivery of Starr's son, Rowan. And when Rowan came home from the hospital breathing rapidly and spitting up his food, both friends were alarmed — even when the pediatrician said he was doing fine.

Perhaps it's no surprise that Mary Catherine Hilkert, a Catholic theologian, a professor at Notre Dame and a Dominican Sister of Peace, believes that people can find love, mercy and union with God after death. In her eyes, however, the concept of hell is far less definitive.

As part of All Things Considered's series on the concept of life after death, Hilkert spoke with host Robert Siegel about her perspectives on heaven and hell, why she thinks of banquets when she imagines the afterlife and why people hold such strong beliefs about what happens when life ends.

John Dankosky

Near the beginning of Thursday's Colin McEnroe Show about guilt, Colin referenced a selection from the Book of Common Prayer:

"Almighty and most merciful Father;
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

I really meant to donate to the NPR fund drive. I just forgot. Well, actually I didn't. But still, I should have donated. I feel so guilty! Guilt is a funny thing. It's a pervasive emotion with the power to both motivate--and oppress.

Jack Newton/flickr creative commons

by Faith Middleton

Traditions can be fun and make life feel better. Join our brainstorming session to become inspired to start your own traditions, from apple-picking; the holiday party; the army buddy reunion; the Vermont Mud Race; to maple syrup on the first snow; and sampling away at The Faith Middleton Show's annual Martini Competition. (Do you know how strange it is to refer to yourself in the third person?)

During an experiment, marketing professor Remi Trudel noticed a pattern in what his volunteers were recycling versus throwing in the garbage. He then went through his colleagues' trash and recycling bins at Boston University for more data.

He found the same pattern, says NPR's Shankar Vedantam: "Whole sheets of paper typically went in the recycling, but paper fragments went in the trash."

Same type of paper, different shapes, different bins.

Scientists claim they have evidence that explains why lifestyle changes known to be good for you — low-fat diets, exercise, reducing stress — can lengthen your life.

Based on a small, exploratory study, researchers say these good habits work by preventing chromosomes in our cells from unraveling. Basically, they assert that healthy living can reverse the effects of aging at a genetic level.

Chion Wolf

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, asexuals seem like brothers and sisters from a distant solar system. 

Western societies are gradually growing accustomed -- with varying degrees of comfort -- to the initials in LGBT, but what about A? On our show today we explored the idea that some people have no sexual orientation -- not because of a hormonal deficiency or a position on the autism spectrum or some buried childhood sexual trauma -- but because they don't have a discernable sex drive.