Sometimes Expressing Anger Can Help a Relationship in the Long-Term

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2012) — It is not always best to forgive and forget in marriage, according to new research that looks at the costs of forgiveness. Sometimes expressing anger might be necessary to resolve a relationship problem — with the short-term discomfort of an angry but honest conversation benefiting the health of the relationship in the long-term. The research is part of a larger effort to better understand the contexts in which some relationships succeed and others fail, and also to understand how close relationships affect our health.

(Credit: http://rodneyhunt.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/taking-a-time-out-when-anger-and-frustration-rise/)


A popular research trend in recent years, positive psychology has offered the promise that with forgiveness, optimism, kindness, and positive thinking, people can turn around their relationships even after a serious transgression. But as James McNulty of Florida State University investigated positive psychology and well-being, he began to see a different trend: “I continued to find evidence that thoughts and behaviors presumed to be associated with better well-being lead to worse well-being among some people — usually the people who need the most help achieving well-being.”

McNulty therefore set out to examine the potential costs of positive psychology. In a set of recent studies, he found that forgiveness in marriage can have some unintended negative effects. “We all experience a time in a relationship in which a partner transgresses against us in some way. For example, a partner may be financially irresponsible, unfaithful, or unsupportive,” says McNulty, who is presenting his research at the APA annual convention this week in Orlando. “When these events occur, we must decide whether we should be angry and hold onto that anger, or forgive.” His research shows that a variety of factors can complicate the effectiveness of forgiveness, including a partner’s level of agreeableness and the severity and frequency of the transgression.

“Believing a partner is forgiving leads agreeable people to be less likely to offend that partner and disagreeable people to be more likely to offend that partner,” he says. Additionally, he says, anger can serve an important role in signaling to a transgressing partner that the offensive behavior is not acceptable. “If the partner can do something to resolve a problem that is likely to otherwise continue and negatively affect the relationship, people may experience long-term benefits by temporarily withholding forgiveness and expressing anger.”

“This work suggests people need to be flexible in how they address the problems that will inevitably arise over the course of their relationships,” McNulty says. “There is no ‘magic bullet,’ no single way to think or behave in a relationship. The consequences of each decision we make in our relationships depends on the circumstances that surround that decision.”

How attachment affects our health

Psychologists have known for decades that close relationships are critical to a person’s health and well-being. However, the exact processes that govern these health effects have not been well understood. Recent studies show that the attachment processes between two individuals in a close relationship dramatically affect health domains ranging from pregnancy and birth defects to cancer and chronic disease.

“We know that having relationships in general and being socially integrated is associated with a reduced risk of mortality,” says Paula Pietromonaco of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who is also presenting at the APA convention. “Our research follows from attachment theory, which suggests that there is one primary person that people turn to for comfort when they are distressed or frightened.”

In adulthood, that person is often a romantic partner or spouse, she says. “These sorts of relationship partners are especially important when people are faced with a stressful event because they have the potential to comfort and calm the person who is experiencing distress or to hinder that person’s efforts to feel better.”

In an ongoing longitudinal study of 225 newlywed couples, for example, Pietromonaco’s team is finding that the way people feel attached to each other affects cortisol levels in response to stress — and can possibly predict depression or anxiety over time. Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study has preliminarily shown that among couples that include a wife who is more anxiously attached — who desires a great deal of intimacy and seeks reassurance and support — and a husband who is more “avoidantly attached,” cortisol levels spike in anticipation of a conflict discussion followed by a sharp decline in cortisol. “In addition, these same anxious wife/avoidant husband couples appear to have more difficulty in discussing the conflict, and their behavior suggests greater disengagement from the discussion.”

These patterns, Pietromonaco says, may signal difficulty with emotion regulation, and it is possible that individuals in these couples will be at greater risk for symptoms of depression and anxiety over time. The researchers are following these couples over the first 3 to 4 years of marriage, and will be examining the extent to which the patterns they see now predict changes in emotional health over the early years of marriage. Pietromonaco and colleagues also recently conducted a review of studies that examine the effects of two-person relationships on a range of health topics in order to create a better framework for future investigations. For example, they point to several studies that show that greater prenatal social support predicts more optimal fetal growth, higher infant birth weight, and reduced risk of low birth weight. But, they caution that such studies need to be replicated and expanded to take into account both perceived support as well as actual support interactions among both partners.

In general, Pietromonaco says that relationship science studies must look at the expectations, beliefs, and experiences of both partners in predicting emotional and physical health. “Although research on psychology and health has begun to consider these sorts of ‘partner effects,’ they are often not incorporated into studies designed to intervene to help people cope with chronic diseases such as cancer or diabetes,” she says. “As Lynn Martire [Penn State] and her colleagues have noted, many couple intervention studies include both partners but assess psychological adjustment for the patient only. Yet how the patient’s caregiver, who is often a spouse, is adjusting and coping may be very important in predicting how patients themselves cope.”

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Healthy Seafood Comes from Sustainable Fish

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2012) — When ordering seafood, the options are many and so are some of the things you might consider in what you order. Is your fish healthy? Is it safe? Is it endangered? While there are many services and rankings offered to help you decide — there’s even an iPhone app — a group of researchers have found a simple rule of thumb applies.

If a fish is sustainable, then it is likely to be healthy to eat too. (Credit: © Viktor / Fotolia)


“If the fish is sustainable, then it is likely to be healthy to eat too,” said Leah Gerber, an associate professor and senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University.

Gerber and colleagues ran an analysis of existing literature on fish to see which ones are more healthy choices and which seem to be the types that you might want to avoid, due to exposure to contaminants like mercury or due to over-exploitation. Their findings are published in the Aug. 2 early on-line version of the Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a publication of the Ecological Society of America.

In “Sustaining seafood for public health,” Gerber and fellow authors — Roxanne Karimi, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y. , and Timothy Fitzgerald of the Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, DC — state that their analysis is the first to bring together the sustainability rankings from several organizations, the health metrics of consumption ranked by various species (like how much omega-3 fatty acids are found in a specific fish type), as well as any known contaminant exposure, and data from several ecological studies on the relative health of specific species.

“In general, larger longer-lived fish are more likely to have exposure to toxins due to the length of their lives and their place on the food chain,” Gerber explained. “So you might be best served to stay away from them — like Bluefin Tuna or Swordfish. Besides they already are over fished.”

Safer choices might be Alaskan Pollock, Atlantic Mackerel or Blue King Crab, said Gerber, a conservation biologist and sushi lover. In fact, the research grew out of her interest in knowing more about the fish she was eating and the choices she and her friends made when dining on fish.

In one experience, Gerber said friends ordered Bluefin Tuna to her dismay.

“That my socially- and health-conscious friends did not know Bluefin was taboo made me think about how complicated it has become to decide what seafood to eat,” she recalled. “How do seafood consumers make informed decisions based on ecological risk, health risks (mercury and PCBs), and health benefits (omegas).

So Gerber, Karimi and Fitzgerald began digging in the literature and developed a database on both ecological and health metrics of seafood.

“We used the database to look for patterns of similarity between ecological and health metrics, and found that in general, choosing healthy seafood also means that you are choosing sustainable seafood,” Gerber said. “Great news for sushi-lovers! Choose the sustainable options and you also are boosting omega-3 intake, without risking mercury poisoning.”

Next up for Gerber is to help develop a tool that can be used to help guide seafood consumers to smarter choices in what they eat.

“We want to help people choose fish that are both eco-friendly and healthy,” she said.

 

Link:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/asu-sfh080212.php

Journal Reference:

  1. Marie L. Fujitani, Eli P. Fenichel, Jorge Torre, Leah R. Gerber. Implementation of a marine reserve has a rapid but short-lived effect on recreational angler use. Ecological Applications, 2012; 22 (2): 597 DOI: 10.1890/11-0603.1

Citation:

Arizona State University (2012, August 2). Healthy seafood comes from sustainable fish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/08/120802122615.htm

It’s in Our Genes: Why Women Outlive Men

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2012) — Scientists are beginning to understand one of life’s enduring mysteries — why women live, on average, longer than men.

Newborn baby boy and girl. Scientists are beginning to understand one of life’s enduring mysteries — why women live, on average, longer than men. (Credit: © Barbara Helgason / Fotolia)


Published August 2 in Current Biology, research led by Monash University, describes how mutations to the DNA of the mitochondria can account for differences in the life expectancy of males and females. Mitochondria, which exist in almost all animal cells, are vital for life because they convert our food into the energy that powers the body.

Dr Damian Dowling and PhD student, Florencia Camus, both from the Monash School of Biological Sciences, worked with Dr David Clancy from Lancaster University to uncover differences in longevity and biological aging across male and female fruit flies that carried mitochondria of different origins. They found that genetic variation across these mitochondria were reliable predictors of life expectancy in males, but not in females.

Dr Dowling said the results point to numerous mutations within mitochondrial DNA that affect how long males live, and the speed at which they age.

“Intriguingly, these same mutations have no effects on patterns of aging in females. They only affect males,” Dr Dowling said.

“All animals possess mitochondria, and the tendency for females to outlive males is common to many different species. Our results therefore suggest that the mitochondrial mutations we have uncovered will generally cause faster male aging across the animal kingdom.”

The researchers said these mutations can be entirely attributed to a quirk in the way that mitochondrial genes are passed down from parents to offspring.

“While children receive copies of most of their genes from both their mothers and fathers, they only receive mitochondrial genes from their mothers. This means that evolution’s quality control process, known as natural selection, only screens the quality of mitochondrial genes in mothers,” Dr Dowling said.

“If a mitochondrial mutation occurs that harms fathers, but has no effect on mothers, this mutation will slip through the gaze of natural selection, unnoticed. Over thousands of generations, many such mutations have accumulated that harm only males, while leaving females unscathed.”

The study builds on previous findings by Dr Dowling and his team that investigated the consequences of maternal inheritance of mitochondria in causing male infertility.

“Together, our research shows that the mitochondria are hotspots for mutations affecting male health. What we seek to do now is investigate the genetic mechanisms that males might arm themselves with to nullify the effects of these harmful mutations and remain healthy,” Dr Dowling said.

 

Link:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/mu-iio073012.php

Journal Reference:

  1. M. Florencia Camus, David J. Clancy, Damian K. Dowling. Mitochondria, Maternal Inheritance, and Male Aging. Current Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.07.018

Citation:

Monash University (2012, August 2). It’s in our genes: Why women outlive men. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/08/120802122503.htm

The Science of Running: Follow the Bouncing Ball

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2012) — Muscle size, genetics and training are among the countless factors that separate Olympic sprinters from the average person. On a fundamental level, however, the mechanics of running are the same for all humans. In fact, they’re basically identical for animals too.

Researchers examined the biomechanics of running and why the joints in the hips, knees and ankles “talk” to each other. (Credit: Image courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology)


“Science has shown that running is very similar to a bouncing ball,” says Young-Hui Chang, an associate professor who oversees Georgia Tech’s “running lab,” officially called the Comparative Neuromechanics Laboratory. “When humans, horses and even cockroaches run, their center of mass bounces just like a pogo stick.”

This bouncing effect, Chang explains, means that the hip, knee and ankle joints all flex and extend at the same time when the foot hits the ground. Many of the leg muscles are turned on simultaneously, creating force and propelling the runner into the air.

“The greater the force, the greater the speed,” said Chang. “Sprinters and coaches are constantly studying ways to move leg muscles and joints as quickly as possible so that a runner can hit the ground as hard as possible.”

Elite runners and weekend joggers are able to consistently land with the same force, step after step. However, Chang’s research reveals that a stride is just like a fingerprint: no two are exactly alike. The torque generated by each joint is never the same. As a result, your legs have a mind of their own.

“Your knee, for example, automatically adjusts its own torque, each step, based on what the ankle and hip do,” said Chang. “All of this happens without your brain getting directly involved. Your joints ‘talk’ to each other, allowing you to concentrate on other things, like having a conversation or watching for cars.”

By studying how joints adapt to one another, Chang and his team will soon work with amputees to hopefully improve movement for people with prostheses. The researchers are also using their running studies to understand how people walk.

“It may seem backwards to fully understand the nuances of running before we study walking, but walking mechanics are actually more complex. Different muscles are activated at different times in a gait cycle. Joints don’t move in unison. There is no ‘bouncing ball’ phenomenon for walkers.”

Chang is an associate professor in the School of Applied Physiology in the College of Sciences.

 

Link:

http://www.gatech.edu/newsroom/release.html?nid=143521

Citation:

Georgia Institute of Technology (2012, August 2). The science of running: Follow the bouncing ball. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/08/120802111336.htm

Early Relationships, Not Brainpower, Key to Adult Happiness

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2012) — Social connection is a more important route to adult well-being than academic ability.

Social connection is a more important route to adult well-being than academic ability. (Credit: © Rido / Fotolia)


Positive social relationships in childhood and adolescence are key to adult well-being, according to Associate Professor Craig Olsson from Deakin University and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia, and his colleagues. In contrast, academic achievement appears to have little effect on adult well-being. The exploratory work, looking at the child and adolescent origins of well-being in adulthood, is published online in Springer’s Journal of Happiness Studies.

We know very little about how aspects of childhood and adolescent development, such as academic and social-emotional function, affect adult well-being — defined here as a combination of a sense of coherence, positive coping strategies, social engagement and self-perceived strengths.

Olsson and team analysed data for 804 people followed up for 32 years, who participated in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (DMHDS) in New Zealand. They explored the relative importance of early academic and social pathways to adult well-being.

In particular, they measured the relationship between level of family disadvantage in childhood, social connectedness in childhood, language development in childhood, social connectedness in adolescence, academic achievement in adolescence and well-being in adulthood. Social connectedness in childhood is defined by the parent and teacher ratings of the child being liked, not being alone, and the child’s level of confidence. Social connectedness in adolescence is demonstrated by social attachments (parents, peers, school, confidant) and participation in youth groups and sporting clubs.

The researchers found, on the one hand, a strong pathway from child and adolescent social connectedness to adult well-being. This illustrates the enduring significance of positive social relationships over the lifespan to adulthood. On the other hand, the pathway from early language development, through adolescent academic achievement, to adult well-being was weak, which is in line with existing research showing a lack of association between socioeconomic prosperity and happiness.

The analyses also suggest that the social and academic pathways are not intimately related to one another, and may be parallel paths.

The authors conclude: “If these pathways are separate, then positive social development across childhood and adolescence requires investments beyond development of the academic curriculum.”

 

Link:

http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=122939&CultureCode=en

Journal Reference:

  1. Craig A. Olsson, Rob McGee, Shyamala Nada-Raja, Sheila M. Williams. A 32-Year Longitudinal Study of Child and Adolescent Pathways to Well-Being in Adulthood. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s10902-012-9369-8

Citation:

Springer Science+Business Media (2012, August 2). Early relationships, not brainpower, key to adult happiness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/08/120802092222.htm

 

Mindfulness Training May Improve Health and Well-Being of Pregnant Women and Their Newborns, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2012) — First-time mothers who pay attention to their emotional and physical changes during their pregnancy may feel better and have healthier newborns than new mothers who don’t, according to research to be presented at American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.

(Credit: The Sun)


“These findings continue more than 40 years of research that has made clear that whether you are mindless or mindful makes a big difference in every aspect of your health and well-being –from competence to longevity,” Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard University and a pioneer in researching mindfulness, said in an interview. Langer is a past recipient of APA’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest.

For Langer’s recent study, researchers trained women pregnant with their first child in mindfulness with instructions to notice subtle changes in their feelings and physical sensations each day, she said. When compared with two other groups of first-time pregnant mothers who did not have the mindfulness training, these women reported more well-being and positive feelings and less emotional distress. “They had higher self-esteem and life satisfaction during this period of their pregnancy and up to at least a month after birth,” Langer said. “And this also had a positive impact on their deliveries and overall health of the newborns.”

Teaching mindfulness through attention to variability may be helpful for many disorders, including asthma, depression and learning disabilities, to name a few, according to Langer.

“Noticing even subtle fluctuations in how you feel can counter mindlessness, or the illusion of stability. We tend to hold things still in our minds, despite the fact that all the while they are changing. If we open up our minds, a world of possibility presents itself,” she said.

Author of the popular books “Mindfulness,” “The Power of Mindful Learning,” “On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity,” and most recently, “Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility,” Langer is known for her work on the illusion of control, aging, decision-making and mindfulness theory.

In her lecture, Langer will describe her research to test possibilities rather than find out what is typical. “Psychologists have traditionally studied the ‘norm’ rather than exceptions that could show that we are capable of far more than we currently realize,” she said. Among other research, she will describe her work showing how a change in mindset has resulted in weight loss and improved vision and hearing, and how subtle differences in choice of words can improve health.

Langer first demonstrated the psychology of possibilities in her landmark 1981 “counterclockwise” experiment in which a group of elderly men spent time immersed in a retreat created to reflect daily life in the 1950s and where they were told to speak of the past in the present tense. Men in a comparison group reminisced for the week and were given no instructions regarding verb tense. The experimental group showed greater improvement in vision, strength, joint flexibility, finger length (their arthritis diminished and they could straighten their fingers more) and manual dexterity. On intelligence tests, 63 percent of the experimental group improved their scores, compared to 44 percent of the control group, Langer said.

BBC television recently replicated the study with British celebrities in a program that has been viewed in Great Britain, Australia, India and Hong Kong. It’s currently being replicated with local celebrities in Germany and the Netherlands, Langer said.

“It is important for people to realize there can be enhanced possibilities for people of all ages and all walks of life,” Langer emphasized. “My research has shown how using a different word, offering a small choice or making a subtle change in the physical environment can improve our health and well-being. Small changes can make large differences, so we should open ourselves to the impossible and embrace a psychology of possibility.”

Presentation: “The Psychology of Possibility,” Ellen J. Langer, PhD, Session 2254, American Psychological Foundation Arthur W. Staats Lecture on Unifying Psychology, Aug. 3.

 

Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/psychology-of-possibilities-can-enhance-health-happiness-research-says

Citation:

American Psychological Association (APA) (2012, August 2). Mindfulness training may improve health and well-being of pregnant women and their newborns, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/08/120802092210.htm