Generally speaking, this coffee shop would be a more peaceful place if everyone else would just be quiet. But if you can’t have that, you could at least find a place that restricts cell phone calls: A new study quantifies how much more annoying cell phone talkers are than people just having an in-person conversation. Aside from the oblivious loud talking, researchers at the University of San Diego found that unintentionally overheard cell phone conversations led to more distraction of study participants. The authors of the study, published in PLOS ONE, tested participants with word puzzles while the researchers read scripted conversations in the background, either over a cell phone—so the participants could only overhear one half of the conversation—or fully in person. The participants, who did not know the conversation was part of the study, found the cell phone conversations much more distracting—and recalled far more details and key words from the cell phone conversations than from the in-person conversations. The next time you are the unwilling third wheel to cell phone chatter, just hold up your own phone for an imaginary half-conversation about how obnoxious the person behind you in line is. She’ll almost certainly overhear it.
FOOD REMEMBERED FONDLY
If your last “meal” was a stale vending machine Honey Bun, you’ll want to start literally paying more attention to what you’re eating. Researchers at the University of Liverpool, reviewing 24 previous studies, found that when people recalled their previous meal as fulfilling, they ate less during the next meal. Eating while distracted (like by a one-sided cell phone conversation at the next table, perhaps?) resulted in higher consumption while focusing attention on the meal at hand reduced the amount eaten. Publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers also found that reminders of previous meals helped keep consumption down. Reminders might include, for example, wrappers left over from past meals. While that may be an effective dieting technique, it also sounds like an effective pathway to hoarding.
Heading home late again? Better top off your cup. Gulping down coffee to stay awake behind the wheel has merit, according to a study of Australian truck drivers. Researchers found that drivers consuming caffeinated beverages, including coffee and energy drinks, had a lower accident risk: Those who used caffeinated drinks to stay awake were 63 percent less likely to crash than the drivers who did not consume caffeine. And if it’s good enough for piloting those crazy four-trailer road trains in the Outback, it’ll probably work for your Corolla. And the researchers note that caffeine was still not a replacement for regular breaks and sane work schedules, so no one is suggesting replacing resident duty hour restrictions with minimum coffee consumption quotas—yet.
It’s good that the mean kids are always willing to hock one up. A pilot study published in Psychiatric Quarterly suggests that aggressive behavior in boys can be predicted by a rapid saliva test. Citing the high risk for violence against health care workers in psychiatric care settings, the researchers were looking for a quick way to determine patients’ tendency toward aggression. Specifically, they studied a small sample of 7- to 9-year-old boys who had been admitted to the hospital for psychiatric care. Samples of the boys’ saliva was analyzed for three hormones, including cortisol and testosterone. Hopefully the test will be more effective than the current spit test for aggression in boys: If a 7- to 9-yearold boy spits on you, he should probably be considered aggressive.