Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Study posits a theory of moral behavior

From the 22 February 2012 Eureka news alert

Researchers say theory may help explain ethical lapses that led to recession

WASHINGTON, DC, February 21, 2012 — Why do some people behave morally while others do not? Sociologists at the University of California, Riverside and California State University, Northridge have developed a theory of the moral self that may help explain the ethical lapses in the banking, investment, and mortgage-lending industries that nearly ruined the U.S. economy.

For decades, sociologists have posited that individual behavior results from cultural expectations about how to act in specific situations. In a study, “A Theory of the Self for the Sociology of Morality,” published in the February issue of the American Sociological Review, Jan E. Stets of UC Riverside and Michael J. Carter of CSU Northridge found that how individuals see themselves in moral terms is also an important motivator of behavior.

Those bankers, stockbrokers, and mortgage lenders whose actions helped cause the recession were able to act as they did, seemingly without shame or guilt, perhaps because their moral identity standard was set at a low level, and the behavior that followed from their personal standard went unchallenged by their colleagues, Stets explained.

“To the extent that others verify or confirm the meanings set by a person’s identity standard and expressed in a person’s behavior, the more the person will continue to engage in these behaviors,” Stets said of the theory of moral identity she and Carter advance. “One’s identity standard guides his or her behavior. Then the person sees the reactions of others to his or her behavior. If others have a low moral identity and do not challenge the illicit behavior that follows from a person’s identity standard, then the person will continue to do what he or she is doing. This is how immoral practices can emerge…

Wherever individuals are located on this continuum, they act with the goal of verifying the meanings of who they are that is set by their moral identity standard, Stets and Carter said. “We found that individuals with a high moral identity score were more likely to behave morally, while those with a low moral identity score were less likely to behave morally. Respondents who received feedback from others that did not verify their moral identity standard were more likely to report guilt and shame than those whose identities were verified,” they said.

The goal is to live up to one’s self-view however that appears across the moral continuum from being very uncaring and unjust to very caring and very just, the researchers said. “When the meanings of one’s behavior based on feedback from others are inconsistent with the meanings in one’s identity standard, the person will feel bad,” they said.

More research is needed to identify the source of moral identity meanings,….

 

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Do Cell Phones Make Us Less Socially Minded?

Closeup of a female speaking outside on a cell...

Image via Wikipedia

A week ago my husband and I were in the backseats of a van.  The driver carried on an extensive conversation via cell phone. It was a very jovial conversation, he was much less tense than in most conversations with us. So, did the cell phone provide a much needed escape from us? or create a less social atmosphere overall??
(Goes without saying how nervous we were about his driving while talking on the cell phone!)

From the 21 February 2012 Medical News Today article

A recent study from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business finds that even though cell phones are generally thought to connect people with each other, they may make users less socially minded. The findings of various experiments conducted by marketing professors Anastasiya Pocheptsova and Rosellina Ferraro with graduate student, Ajay T. Abraham have been published in their working paper The Effect of Mobile Phone Use on Pro-social Behavior. ..

…Their findings revealed that participants were less likely to volunteer for a community service when asked after a short period of using their cell phone, than those in the control-group and were also less persistent in solving word problems, despite knowing their answers would result in a monetary donation to charity.

The cell phone users’ lower interest in others also persisted when asked to simply draw a picture of their cell phones and think about how they used them.

The researchers referred to earlier studies in explaining the key cause of their findings, saying:

“The cell phone directly evokes feelings of connectivity to others, thereby fulfilling the basic human need to belong.”

This leads to a lower desire to connect with others or to be empathic towards others. It also decreases pro-social behavior, which means wanting to act in order to benefit another person or society as a whole. …

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Weaning From Gluten May Be Pointless For Many (article and comment summary)

Photograph of 4 gluten sources. Top: High-glut...

Photograph of 4 gluten sources. Top: High-gluten wheat flour. Right: European spelt. Bottom: Barley. Left: Rolled rye flakes.

Weaning From Gluten May Be Pointless For Many (22 February 2012 article at Medical News Today)

People who do not have celiac disease and believe they have “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” may be weaning themselves off gluten unnecessarily, researchers from the University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy, reported inAnnals of Internal Medicine. The authors added that the majority of people who avoid gluten have “nonceliac gluten sensitivity” – those with celiac disease are a minority among gluten avoiders…

The authors say that some people who think they are food sensitive and do not have celiac disease may be abstaining from gluten unnecessarily. They suggest that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be a perceived sensitivity, and one caused by the nocebo effect of gluten ingestion or wheat. Nocebo effect is a negative placebo effect, as may occur when somebody takes a medication and experiences unpleasant side-effects which are unrelated to the pharmacological action of the drug. The nocebo effect is linked to the individual’s prior expectations of a side effect.

The researchers give examples of patients who strictly abstained from gluten, and believed their gluten-free diets helped reduce their symptoms. However, very few of them had ever undergone a proper diagnosis procedure.

They believe doctors should think about performing open or single-blind gluten challenge tests on those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity – at least until a valid biomarker for non-celiac gluten sensitivity is found….

The comments overwhelmingly were against the research findings. Some argued that their symptoms/conditions cleared with gluten free diets despite not being diagnosed with celiac disease. Others wrote that gluten free diets resolved other conditions as autoimmune disorders.

This comment supporting the researchers stressed the importance of teasing out variables..

I believe that many people who eliminate gluten often eliminate foods that are high in sugar, fat, and contain other non-nutrative additives. While they believe gluten was the culprit it was probably the junk food and highly processed foods that caused them to feel many of the symptoms.

In my humble opinion, there is something to gluten free diets. I believe they are helpful to many and perhaps not just those suffering from celiac disease. However I don’t think there is enough evidence that everyone should go gluten free because our digestive systems were not “designed” for gluten.

February 22, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Domestic Violence and Social Media (from the Health Is Social Blog)

Something to consider, if you tweet today, or connect to someone via another social media tool (as Facebook)…
remember there are people who fear to connect because they are being stalked by people with controlling intentions…

From the 8 November 2010 Health Is Social Blog item Domestic Violence and Social Media

Note: If you are a victim of domestic violence, please be sure you are safe accessing the Internet. If you have an emergency, dial 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233). To leave this site immediately, click here.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN A DIGITALLY CONNECTED WORLD

This blog is dedicated, among other things, to exploring the intersection of health and social media. It swings its angle around different perspectives: from marketing to professional awareness of technology to the healthcare implications of the very existence of social media in our lives.

So I’m going to use this platform to talk about and raise questions about domestic violence in a world that is increasingly being overtaken by social media….

You see, not everybody is in exactly the same position as everyone else when it comes to social media – its use and its access.

A newly diagnosed cancer patient is in an entirely different situation from a woman whose husband or boyfriend abuses her. The former doesn’t have to worry about a husband who stalks her every move; implants spyware on her computer; and threatens to kill her if she tells anybody else what’s going on.

A tweet, or a check-in, could be as effectively dangerous as a bullet.

Violence isn’t just a physical act: its a violation, one which ranges from subtle manipulation to implicit threatening and emotional terrorizing to murder.

And therein lies the peculiar challenges of domestic violence and social media. If social media is – as is claimed – Social, then there are specific social ramifications to be considered in the context of domestic violence.

On one hand, victims of domestic violence need support and resources and the information needed to acquire them.

On the other, abusers often go to any length to control their victims. Their insecurity with themselves is so deep – so out of their own control – that they seek control and security in the emotional and visceral pain of others.

So what does a victim do when the abuser dominates so much that social media isn’t much of a safe option?…..

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February 22, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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