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Concept: Inequality


The negative effects of mind-wandering on performance and mood have been widely documented. In a recent well-cited study, Killingsworth and Gilbert (2010) conducted a large experience sampling study revealing that all off-task episodes, regardless of content, have equal to or lower happiness ratings, than on-task episodes. We present data from a similarly implemented experience sampling study with additional mind-wandering content categories. Our results largely conform to those of the Killingsworth and Gilbert (2010) study, with mind-wandering generally being associated with a more negative mood. However, subsequent analyses reveal situations in which a more positive mood is reported after being off-task. Specifically when off-task episodes are rated for interest, the high interest episodes are associated with an increase in positive mood compared to all on-task episodes. These findings both identify a situation in which mind-wandering may have positive effects on mood, and suggest the possible benefits of encouraging individuals to shift their off-task musings to the topics they find most engaging.

Concepts: Cognition, Mind, Equals sign, Inequality, Equality, Plus and minus signs, The Silver Lining, Silver lining


BACKGROUND: Although an initial IFA-IgG titer greater or equal to 1/64 or 1/128 is considered positive in presumptive diagnosis, in clinical practice in an endemic setting for rickettsioses in Sri Lanka, some patients with IFA-IgG titer of 1/128 for either spotted fever group (SFG) or scrub typhus (ST) did not respond to treatment. FINDINGS: To determine a clinically helpful diagnostic algorithm, IFA-IgG results of serologically confirmed treatment responders were analyzed in relation to duration of illness at sampling.Of 146 suspected SFG, 3 responders of 25 patients had titers <=1/128 with < 7 days of illness while all 9 with titers >=1/256 responded (false negative with 1/256 cutoff was 12%, false positive was 0%). For illness > 7 days, the false negative and positive rates were 4.3% (3/59) and 11.3% (6/53). Of 115 suspected ST, false negative and positive rates with >=1/256 cutoff at <7 days of illness were (2/15) and 0% (0/8) respectively while > 7 days, false negative and positive rates were 2% (1/51) and 0% (0/42). CONCLUSIONS: For clinical decision making, duration of illness at sampling is important in interpreting serology results in an endemic setting. If sample is obtained <=7 day of illness, an IgG titer of <=1/128 requires a follow up sample in the diagnosis and > 7 days of illness, a single >=1/256 titer is diagnostic for all ST and 90% of SFG.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Rickettsia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Sri Lanka, Inequality, Typhus, Equality


Recent studies have highlighted the potential role of basic numerical processing in the acquisition of numerical and mathematical competences. However, it is debated whether high-level numerical skills and mathematics depends specifically on basic numerical representations. In this study mathematicians and nonmathematicians performed a basic number line task, which required mapping positive and negative numbers on a physical horizontal line, and has been shown to correlate with more advanced numerical abilities and mathematical achievement. We found that mathematicians were more accurate compared with nonmathematicians when mapping positive, but not negative numbers, which are considered numerical primitives and cultural artifacts, respectively. Moreover, performance on positive number mapping could predict whether one is a mathematician or not, and was mediated by more advanced mathematical skills. This finding might suggest a link between basic and advanced mathematical skills. However, when we included visuospatial skills, as measured by block design subtest, the mediation analysis revealed that the relation between the performance in the number line task and the group membership was explained by non-numerical visuospatial skills. These results demonstrate that relation between basic, even specific, numerical skills and advanced mathematical achievement can be artifactual and explained by visuospatial processing. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Mathematics, Number, Real number, Set theory, 0, Inequality, Numbers, Subtraction


Research on social class and generosity suggests that higher-income individuals are less generous than poorer individuals. We propose that this pattern emerges only under conditions of high economic inequality, contexts that can foster a sense of entitlement among higher-income individuals that, in turn, reduces their generosity. Analyzing results of a unique nationally representative survey that included a real-stakes giving opportunity (n = 1,498), we found that in the most unequal US states, higher-income respondents were less generous than lower-income respondents. In the least unequal states, however, higher-income individuals were more generous. To better establish causality, we next conducted an experiment (n = 704) in which apparent levels of economic inequality in participants' home states were portrayed as either relatively high or low. Participants were then presented with a giving opportunity. Higher-income participants were less generous than lower-income participants when inequality was portrayed as relatively high, but there was no association between income and generosity when inequality was portrayed as relatively low. This research finds that the tendency for higher-income individuals to be less generous pertains only when inequality is high, challenging the view that higher-income individuals are necessarily more selfish, and suggesting a previously undocumented way in which inequitable resource distributions undermine collective welfare.

Concepts: Economics, U.S. state, Economic inequality, Inequality, Altruism, Selfishness


Social media are used as main discussion channels by millions of individuals every day. The content individuals produce in daily social-media-based micro-communications, and the emotions therein expressed, may impact the emotional states of others. A recent experiment performed on Facebook hypothesized that emotions spread online, even in absence of non-verbal cues typical of in-person interactions, and that individuals are more likely to adopt positive or negative emotions if these are over-expressed in their social network. Experiments of this type, however, raise ethical concerns, as they require massive-scale content manipulation with unknown consequences for the individuals therein involved. Here, we study the dynamics of emotional contagion using a random sample of Twitter users, whose activity (and the stimuli they were exposed to) was observed during a week of September 2014. Rather than manipulating content, we devise a null model that discounts some confounding factors (including the effect of emotional contagion). We measure the emotional valence of content the users are exposed to before posting their own tweets. We determine that on average a negative post follows an over-exposure to 4.34% more negative content than baseline, while positive posts occur after an average over-exposure to 4.50% more positive contents. We highlight the presence of a linear relationship between the average emotional valence of the stimuli users are exposed to, and that of the responses they produce. We also identify two different classes of individuals: highly and scarcely susceptible to emotional contagion. Highly susceptible users are significantly less inclined to adopt negative emotions than the scarcely susceptible ones, but equally likely to adopt positive emotions. In general, the likelihood of adopting positive emotions is much greater than that of negative emotions.

Concepts: Experiment, Hypothesis, Empathy, Emotion, Null hypothesis, Inequality, Social network service, Twitter


Sexual minorities suffer worse mental health than the sexual majority but little is known about differences in mental health within sexual minorities. We aimed to describe inequality in mental health indicators among gay and bisexual men.

Concepts: United States, United Kingdom, England, Great Britain, Wales, Scotland, Inequality, Irish Sea


One of the major difficulties encountered by animals that select mates using acoustic signals is discriminating individual calls from the background noise generated by other conspecifics. Reducing the effects of conspecific masking could improve discrimination of individual calls from background noise. We used auditory evoked potentials to investigate the effects of forward masking on the responses to artificial calls in male and female treefrogs (Hyla cinerea), as well as whether hearing advertisement calls over several nights, as happens in natural frog choruses, could modify the effects of masking. We found that response amplitude decreased with decreasing interstimulus interval when the masker was equal in amplitude to the stimulus. We also found evidence of a priming effect, whereby response amplitude at lower masker amplitudes was greater than when the target stimulus was not preceded by a masker. Finally, we found that the effect of masking was diminished by 10 nights of chorus exposure (i.e. responses were stronger to target stimuli), while there was no change in response in the control group. Our results show that hearing dynamic social stimuli, like frog choruses, can alter the responses of the auditory periphery in a way that could enhance the detection of and response to conspecific acoustic communication signals.

Concepts: Effect, Perception, Evoked potential, Acoustics, Effects unit, The Target, Sound, Inequality


BACKGROUND: Legionella pneumophila is increasingly recognised as a significant cause of sporadic and epidemic community-acquired and nosocomial pneumonia. Many studies describe the frequency and severity of Legionella spp. contamination in spa pools, natural pools, hotels and ships, but there is no study analysing the environmental monitoring of Legionella on board trains. The aims of the present study were to conduct periodic and precise environmental surveillance of Legionella spp. in water systems and water tanks that supply the toilet systems on trains, to assess the degree of contamination of such structures and to determine the effectiveness of decontamination. METHODS: A comparative pre-post ecological study was conducted from September 2006 to January 2011. A total of 1,245 water samples were collected from plumbing and toilet water tanks on passenger trains. The prevalence proportion of all positive samples was calculated. The unpaired t-test was performed to evaluate statistically significant differences between the mean load values before and after the decontamination procedures; statistical significance was set at p [less than or equal to]0.05. RESULTS: In the pre-decontamination period, 58% of the water samples were positive for Legionella. Only Legionella pneumophila was identified: 55.84% were serogroup 1, 19.03% were serogroups 2-14 and 25.13% contained both serogroups. The mean bacterial load value was 2.14 x 103 CFU/L. During the post-decontamination period, 42.75% of water samples were positive for Legionella spp.; 98.76% were positive for Legionella pneumophila: 74.06% contained serogroup 1, 16.32 % contained serogroups 2-14 and 9.62% contained both. The mean bacterial load in the post-decontamination period was 1.72 x 103 CFU/L. According to the t-test, there was a statistically significant decrease in total bacterial load until approximately one and a half year after beginning the decontamination programme (p =0.0097). CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that systematic environmental surveillance could be a useful approach for assessing the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria, which still represents a public health threat. According to the study results, an environmental surveillance programme, followed by decontamination procedures where necessary, would decrease the total bacterial count, protecting the health of travellers and workers.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Statistics, Pneumonia, Nosocomial infection, Statistical significance, Statistical hypothesis testing, Legionella, Inequality


It has been repeatedly shown that specific brain activity related to planning movement develops before the conscious intention to act. This empirical finding strongly challenges the notion of free will. Here, we demonstrate that in the Libet experiment, spontaneous fluctuations of the slow electro-cortical potentials (SCPs) account for a significant fraction of the readiness potential (RP). The individual potential shifts preceding self-initiated movements were classified as showing a negative or positive shift. The negative and positive potential shifts were analyzed in a self-initiated movement condition and in a no-movement condition. Comparing the potential shifts between both conditions, we observed no differences in the early part of the potential. This reveals that the apparently negative RP emerges through an unequal ratio of negative and positive potential shifts. These results suggest that ongoing negative shifts of the SCPs facilitate self-initiated movement but are not related to processes underlying preparation or decision to act.

Concepts: Brain, Electrophysiology, Emergence, Electroencephalography, Mind, Potential, Inequality, Benjamin Libet


Humans prefer relatively equal distributions of resources, yet societies have varying degrees of economic inequality. To investigate some of the possible determinants and consequences of inequality, here we perform experiments involving a networked public goods game in which subjects interact and gain or lose wealth. Subjects (n = 1,462) were randomly assigned to have higher or lower initial endowments, and were embedded within social networks with three levels of economic inequality (Gini coefficient = 0.0, 0.2, and 0.4). In addition, we manipulated the visibility of the wealth of network neighbours. We show that wealth visibility facilitates the downstream consequences of initial inequality-in initially more unequal situations, wealth visibility leads to greater inequality than when wealth is invisible. This result reflects a heterogeneous response to visibility in richer versus poorer subjects. We also find that making wealth visible has adverse welfare consequences, yielding lower levels of overall cooperation, inter-connectedness, and wealth. High initial levels of economic inequality alone, however, have relatively few deleterious welfare effects.

Concepts: Economic inequality, Inequality, Binary relation, Equality, Welfare economics, Income inequality metrics, Gini coefficient, Wealth condensation