Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Tipping points

New research from Austria suggests that playing either upbeat or sad music can increase the amount of tips serving staff receive.

Neutral piano music has no effect but “uplifting music makes people happy and the better mood someone is in the more they tip. Melancholic music nurtures people’s helping behaviour. The manipulated customers want to hep the serving staff with higher  tips than usual” says Annika Beer a psychologist at the University of Innsbruck.

The tipping effect applied particularly to older customers, perhaps because they listen to less music than younger people, or it could be that younger people have less disposable income.

The experiment was carried out in quite an upmarket restaurant where the average bill for two people was about £90 (the average tip was £3.50 more under the experimental condition).

There has been other research on tipping behaviour suggesting that waitresses who wear red lipstick do better and touching the customer’s hand as you give them the bill can increase tips.

There is also research that suggests that playing faster music will make customers finish their meals quicker – obviously an ideal in fast food restaurants.

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Happiness means different things around the world.

In Helen Russell’s new book “The Atlas of Happiness, the global secretes of how to be happyshe describes the way different countries see happiness and contentment.

It seems the Danes haven’t got the monopoly on this subject.

  • In China it’s about finding your meaning in life or “xingfu” – the state of being happy in the sense of living a meaningful life – not just being happy in the short term.
  • In Costa Rica it’s about staying positive and socialising. “pura vida” means the pure life and is about staying optimistic and happy in the face of adversity. It involves good food, good company – especially family, good weather, and the time to enjoy those things.
  • In Japan it’s about embracing the perfectly imperfect or “wabi-sabu” or simplicity and the beauty of age and wear. An appreciation of the things the way they are and revelling in imperfections in real life.
  • In Denmark, apart from the concept of “hygge“, they also have the idea of”arbejdsglaede” or happiness at work. Working long hours is a no-no (they work 33 hours a week on average) and regular breaks  for coffee and cinnamon buns de rigeur.
  • In India the idea is to focus on solutions not the problem. “jugaad” means frugal innovation, life hacks and a commitment to get things done all in order to get a positive outcome.
  • In Finland it’s “kalsarikannit” or getting “pants drunk”. Sitting in your well-insulated house in your underpants watching TV and getting drunk. I was told in Finland that they have a drink problem but this is elevating it to a different level and there is even an emoji for it.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the book!


10 Tips for better health

According to  the Chief Medical Officer these are the ten things you should be doing to look after yourself (and others).

  1. Don’t smoke. If you can’t stop cut down
  2. Follow a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
  3. Keep physically active
  4. Manage stress by talking things through and making time to relax
  5. If you drink alcohol do so in moderation
  6. Cover up in the sun and protect children from sunburn
  7. Practise safer sex
  8. Take up cancer-screening opportunities
  9. Be safe on the roads. Follow the highway code
  10. Learn the First Aid ABC: airways, breathing, circulation

And as a Macmillan nurse once said “Be kind to yourself

 


Women more likely to be addicted to their smartphones

Do you never leave a room without your phone in your hand? Do you check Facebook or other social media in your bedroom at night? Tell fibs about how long you spend on it?

If so you could be a victim of smartphone or internet addiction.

Women are more likely to have this problem and are far more reliant on their devices than men according to research by UK Addiction Treatment, the largest company of its kind in the UK.

It has recorded a 160% rise in women needing help for internet-based addiction in the past two years. Last year it treated almost a third of the it’s private and NHS patients for the problem and most were women who find themselves unable to stop using social media or playing games on their phones or computers.

They feel anxious, irritable or depressed when they can’t use the internet and put it before basic needs. Last year the company helped 475 women and 375 men, up from 180 women and 220 men in 2015.

They are not sure why there is a gender difference but it could be because women are more likely to be at home with children or unemployed.

Most patients were in their 30s or 40s, younger people understand the internet better, said Eytan Alexander the company’s founder. “It’s about escapism and we see female patients using drugs to enable them to stay up into the night to play games on their phones or stay on social media”.

The World Health Organisation recently declared that “gaming disorder” was a new mental health condition.

The government is also concerned about the effect of this  on children who see their parents, and particularly their mothers, as role models.

They are advising parents to leave their phones in the kitchen at night to set a good example to their children. They also advise that all computers should be turned off two hours before bedtime and no internet in the bedroom! And that applies to smart phones too which should be a no-no in kids’ bedrooms.

They want parents to be stricter to combat mobile phone addiction and show them how to use the internet safely. By 2020 young children from age 4 will be taught in schools about the perils of social media.

I’ve posted may times before about the dangers of social media and the way it effects your health and the clever ways designers use to get you addicted e.g. likes and streaks, just like a slot machine randomly reinforcing you behaviours.


Coffee shops told to stop selling calorie-rich cakes

Public Health England (PHE) has criticised coffee shops for pushing customers to buy snacks.

They are working with the food industry to reduce the sugar content of foods in shops and are now looking at food eaten outside the home. Chief nutritionist Alison Teddistone said “Coffee shops have got a long way to go”

A muffin adds about 400 calories to an order. Just because it has a healthy sounding name it’s still part of the problem, she says, with all the little nudges to buy extras.

Major coffee chains have committed publicly to reducing sugar and now it is time for all to raise their game. More action is needed to tackle obesity”.

PHE has set a target for cafés restaurants and coffee shops to reduce sugar in their everyday products by 20% by 2020. They are also concerned about takeaway deliveries who are doing a Facebook and saying they are “only connecting people”.  The government is also keen for restaurants, cafés and take-aways to list calories on their menus.

The WHO has warned this week that the UK was the 5th out of 176 nations for cancer linked to obesity. That is truly a shocking statistic, especially for an advanced country like the UK.

PHE said people know smoking is linked to cancer but don’t realise obesity is also increasing the risk of cancer (and diabetes and stroke).

FYI

  • Costa Coffee Blueberry muffin = 434 calories with 25.7 g of sugar
  • Costa Coffee bonfire spiced hot chocolate whole milk = 311 calories with36.5 g of sugar
  • Starbucks skinny blueberry muffin = 312 calories with 24 g of sugar
  • Starbucks venti oat vanilla latte = 438 calories with 52.2 g of sugar
  • Caffe Nero blueberry-filled muffin = 418 calories with 29.1 g of sugar

NHS advises only 30 g of sugar per day

This is all very well but perhaps if people exercised more then they could enjoy these treats in moderation.

And I’ve previously posted about Costa Coffee’s decision to impose semi-skimmed milk on customers without warning or having signs anywhere. They say it’s for health reasons yet still encourage people to have syrup, marshmallows and chocolate logs in their coffee. How hypocritical is that?


Annandale Distillery…………..Scottish whisky (just!)

Another great picture blog from Kindadukish

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

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On my recent visit to the Lake District it was suggested that I make a foray across the border to visit the Annandale Distillery (given my interest in whisky) which is the most southerly whisky distillery in Scotland. It is tucked away just outside the town of Annandale in a little valley and would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it.

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The buildings have been refurbished at a cost of £14 million (increased from the original estimate of £10.5 million) and they have done a magnificent job of retaining as much of the original structure as possible. The setting is simply delightful and it is reassuring to see wooden casks (used for maturing the spirit) stacked around the yard.

Background History*

The original Annandale Distillery was built in 1830 by former Elgin-based excise officer George Donald, who named the site after the valley in which it is…

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Cleaning up the rivers in Burnley

Parking round the back of the shops in the town centre I spotted these stone monuments.

They are commemorating the clean up of the River Brun (from which Burnley takes its name). The river runs through the town centre, mostly hidden from view but can be seen if you know where to look.

The poem about the Brun, by George Hindle in 1896, refers to the “radiant sun”. I’ve not seen much of that in Burnley lately!