Empathy & Perspective Taking: How Social Skills Are Built

Understanding what other people want, how they feel, and how they see the world is becoming increasingly important in our complex, globalized society. Social skills enable us to make friends and create a network of people who support us. But not everyone finds it easy to interact with other people. One of the main reasons is that two of the most important social skills — empathy, i.e. being able to empathize with the other person’s emotions, and the ability to take a perspective, i.e. being able to gain an information by adopting another person’s point of view — are developed to different degrees.

Researchers have long been trying to find out what helps one to understand others. The more you know about these two social skills, the better you can help people to form social relationships. However, it still not exactly clear what empathy and perspective taking are (the latter is also known as “theory of mind”).

Being able to read a person’s emotions through their eyes, understand a funny story, or interpret the action of another person — in everyday life there are always social situations that require these two important abilities. However, they each require a combination of different individual subordinate skills. If it is necessary to interpret looks and facial expressions in one situation, in another it may be necessary to think along with the cultural background of the narrator or to know his or her current needs.

To date, countless studies have been conducted that examine empathy and perspective taking as a whole. However, it has not yet been clarified what constitutes the core of both competencies and where in the brain their bases lie. Philipp Kanske, former MPI CBS research group leader and currently professor at the TU Dresden, together with Matthias Schurz from the Donders Institute in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and an international team of researchers, have now developed a comprehensive explanatory model.

“Both of these abilities are processed in the brain by a ‘main network’ specialised in empathy or changing perspective, which is activated in every social situation. But, depending on the situation, it also involves additional networks,” Kanske explains, referring to the results of the study, which has just been published in the journal Psychological Bulletin. If we read the thoughts and feelings of others, for example, from their eyes, other additional regions are involved than if we deduce them from their actions or from a narrative. “The brain is thus able to react very flexibly to individual requirements.”

For empathy, a main network that can recognise acutely significant situations, for example, by processing fear, works together with additional specialised regions, for example, for face or speech recognition. When changing perspective, in turn, the regions that are also used for remembering the past or fantasising about the future, i.e., for thoughts that deal with things that cannot be observed at the moment, are active as the core network. Here too, additional brain regions are switched on in each concrete situation.

Through their analyses, the researchers have also found out that particularly complex social problems require a combination of empathy and a change of perspective. People who are particularly competent socially seem to view the other person in both ways — on the basis of feelings and on the basis of thoughts. In their judgement, they then find the right balance between the two.

“Our analysis also shows, however, that a lack of one of the two social skills can also mean that not this skill as a whole is limited. It may be that only a certain factor is affected, such as understanding facial expressions or speech melody,” adds Kanske. A single test is therefore not sufficient to certify a person’s lack of social skills. Rather, there must be a series of tests to actually assess them as having little empathy, or as being unable to take the other person’s point of view.

The scientists have investigated these relationships by means of a large-scale meta-analysis. They identified, on the one hand, commonalities in the MRI pattern of the 188 individual studies examined when the participants used empathy or perspective taking. This allowed the localisation of the core regions in the brain for each of the two social skills. However, results also indicated how the MRI patterns differed depending on the specific task and, therefore, which additional brain regions were used.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Matthias Schurz, Joaquim Radua, Matthias G. Tholen, Lara Maliske, Daniel S. Margulies, Rogier B. Mars, Jerome Sallet, Philipp Kanske. Toward a hierarchical model of social cognition: A neuroimaging meta-analysis and integrative review of empathy and theory of mind.. Psychological Bulletin, 2020; DOI: 10.1037/bul0000303

Cite This Page:

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. “Empathy and perspective taking: How social skills are built.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201110090427.htm>.

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7 Secrets to Effective Teamwork (as Reported by Hundreds of Teams)

What do effective teamwork and Russian literature have in common? Why is successful teamwork so much like a happy marriage? How can you make teamwork more effective? Let’s start with this premise: Happy teams are all alike; every unhappy team is unhappy in its own way. Have you heard of the Anna Karenina principle? It’s derived from the famous first sentence of Leo Tolstoy’s seminal novel: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way…………

Source: 7 Secrets to Effective Teamwork (as Reported by Hundreds of Teams)

Older Workers Need Further Labor Market Improvements

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Source: Older Workers Need Further Labor Market Improvements

See How Many Times Your School District Has Been Investigated for Civil Rights Violations – Beth Skwarecki

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If you believe your school district or college is discriminating against students on the basis of sex, race, or disability, you’re entitled to file a complaint with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Sexual harassment and assault are also grounds for complaints. The office is supposed to investigate fully and, if necessary, recommend corrective action to right any wrongs.

But ProPublica reports that the Department of Education is now dismissing far more cases without taking action under Betsy DeVos than it did under her predecessors. To go along with their report, they have published a tool that lets you look up your school district or college to see how many investigations have been opened in the last few years, and how they were resolved.

The data doesn’t break out individual schools, so New York City’s entire school district shows up as one entry with hundreds of cases. But if you look up a smaller district, or a college, the data becomes more meaningful—two cases at in one Pennsylvania district I checked. Six at the University of Pittsburgh, but 15 at that same university’s medical school, which is listed separately.

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For the full details on what the cases are about, you’ll have to check local news or other sources; ProPublica only provides dates and some very basic information on the type of complaint and the nature of the resolution. But it’s worth checking to see what’s happening at your district that you might not have known about.

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What Do 90-Somethings Regret Most – Lydia Sohn

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My preconceptions about older people first began to crumble when one of my congregants, a woman in her 80s, came into my office seeking pastoral care. She had been widowed for several years but the reason for her distress was not the loss of her husband. It was her falling in love with a married man. As she shared her story with me over a cup of tea and Kleenex, I tried to keep a professional and compassionate countenance, though, internally, I was bewildered by the realization that even into their 80s, people still fall for one another in that teenage, butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of way.

One of the strange and wonderful features of my job as a minister is that I get to be a confidant and advisor to people at all stages of life. I’ve worked with people who are double and even triple my age. Experience like this is rare; our economic structure and workforce are stratified, and most people are employed within their own demographics. But because I’m a minister in a mainline denomination with an aging base, the people I primarily interact with are over the age of 60. I came into my job assuming that I, a Korean-American woman in my mid-30s, would not be able to connect with these people — they’re from a completely different racial and cultural background than me. It did not take long for me to discover how very wrong I was.

We all have joys, hopes, fears, and longings that never go away no matter how old we get. Until recently, I mistakenly associated deep yearnings and ambitions with the energy and idealism of youth. My subconscious and unexamined assumption was that the elderly transcend these desires because they become more stoic and sage-like over time. Or the opposite: They become disillusioned by life and gradually shed their vibrancy and vitality.

When I initially realized that my assumptions might be wrong, I set out to research the internal lives of older people. Who really were they, and what had they learned in life? Using my congregation as a resource, I interviewed several members in their 90s with a pen, notebook, a listening ear and a promise to keep everyone anonymous. I did not hold back, asking them burning questions about their fears, hopes, sex lives or lack thereof. Fortunately, I had willing participants. Many of them were flattered by my interest, as America tends to forget people as they age.


I began each conversation by asking if they had any regrets. By this point, they’d lived long enough to look at life from multiple angles so I knew their responses would be meaningful. Most of their regrets revolved around their families. They wished relationships, either with their children or between their children, turned out differently. These relational fractures, I could see on their faces, still caused them much pain and sorrow. One of my interviewees has two children who haven’t seen or spoken to each another for over two decades. She lamented that this, among all the mistakes and regrets she could bring to mind, was the single thing keeping her up at night.

I then moved on to the happiest moments of their lives. Every single one of these 90-something-year-olds, all of whom are widowed, recalled a time when their spouses were still alive and their children were younger and living at home. As a busy young mom and working professional who frequently fantasizes about the faraway, imagined pleasures of retirement, I quickly responded, “But weren’t those the most stressful times of your lives?” Yes of course, they all agreed. But there was no doubt that those days were also the happiest.

Their responses intrigued me. They contradicted a well-known article on happiness in The Economist, “The U-bend of Life.” The article went viral in 2010 and was a common conversation topic among my family and friends. Its counter-intuitive yet completely reasonable analyses seemed to resonate with my generation.

The theory of the “U-bend” came about as researchers discovered consistent findings from several independent research projects on happiness and well-being around the world. They concluded that happiness, pleasure and enjoyment are most tenuous during the middle ages of life, starting in our 20s with depression peaking at 46 — which the author described as “middle-age-misery.” The happiness of youth however, not only returned but was experienced at higher levels in subjects’ 70s. Researchers hypothesized that middle-age-misery was due to the overwhelming number of familial, professional, and financial demands during these years. Following a happiness dip in middle age, researchers concluded that we become more self-accepting, less ambitious and more mindful of living in the present moment (instead of the future) as we approach our 70s.

My interviewees’ responses contradicted the popular “U-bend” theory. Why? Perhaps happiness is more complex than we thought. Maybe our understanding of what makes us happy changes as we age. When we’re younger, perhaps we think of happiness as a feeling instead of a state of fulfillment, meaning, or abundance — which my interviewees were associating it with. Regardless, their responses came as a sobering reminder to fully appreciate and soak in these chaotic days of diaper changes, messiness, and minimal me-time. They may just end up being my happiest moments.


I was dying to ask if their spouses (of many decades, in most cases) were really the loves of their lives. As it turns out, this was true for some and not for others. In both cases, though, they kept trying to make their marriages work. I got the sense from their responses that after they had children, their marriages became much less important to their happiness than the overall nuclear family dynamic. This focus on the family unit, however, did not mean their sexual and romantic passion vanished. They still longed to be wooed and pursued. They still experienced intense attraction to people who were not their spouses and continue to experience intense attraction for others to this day. Of course, sex becomes more tiresome, as well as masturbation, but their desire for companionship is just as prominent as it was during the height of their youth.

Being old brought a lot of advantages: more time, more perspective, less hustling to be the best and most successful, and an urgency to strengthen the important relationships in her life.

My interviewees’ thoughts on beauty and aging were also varied — their physical appearance only mattered insofar as it mattered to them when they were younger. Those who were valued for their good looks or athleticism experienced much more grief in regards to their current bodies than those who derived confidence from qualities that were much less time-fixed. One interviewee, for example, was well-known in her community for being a writer and columnist in local newspapers. When I asked her if she was saddened by her aging appearance, she responded, “Well, I never thought I was pretty to begin with so, no.” The ones who did experience greater negative emotions about aging, though, shared that the peak of that grief occurred in their 70s and has diminished since then.

The same woman who told me she wasn’t bothered by her aging appearance also shared that she wasn’t afraid of death but of dying. I found this to be a profound distinction. She believed in an afterlife, as one might expect given that she belongs to a church. She felt sure that she would, in one way or another, be well taken care of after her time here came to an end. She is still very physically and mentally healthy, so it was that final leg of her journey that worried her. Would she be restricted to a hospital bed, just a mess of tubes and needles? Would she still recognize family and friends? Would she be in constant pain? Being old didn’t bother her until it affected the quality of her life in an incredibly detrimental way. In fact, being old, she shared, brought a lot of advantages: more time, more perspective, less hustling to be the best and most successful, and an urgency to strengthen the important relationships in her life.


The radical relationship-based orientation of all my subjects caught me by surprise. As someone entering the height of my career, I expend much more energy on work than on relationships. And when I imagine my future, I envision what I will have accomplished rather than the quality of my interactions with those who are most important to me. These 90-something-year-olds emphasize the opposite when they look back on their lives. Their joys and regrets have nothing to do with their careers, but with their parents, children, spouses, and friends. Put simply, when I asked one person, “Do you wish you accomplished more?” He responded, “No, I wished I loved more.”

My conversations challenged me. I certainly won’t be giving up my job to hang out with my family more because I also recognize that satisfying careers and financial stability are great sources of fulfillment — which, in turn, affect family well-being. But these different perspectives helped me focus on what really matters in the face of competing responsibilities and priorities. That sermon really does not have to be the best sermon in the world when my son is starving for my attention. My husband really does not need to get the highest-paying job he can find if that means I can spend more time with him.

Put simply, when I asked one person, “Do you wish you accomplished more?” He responded, “No, I wished I loved more.”

However, the biggest impact they left on me was not reprioritization but being okay with aging. I confess that prior to my conversations, I had an intense fear about growing old. This, I realize, was what motivated me to begin this research in the first place. I assumed the elderly lost their vibrancy and thirst for life. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They still laugh like crazy, fall in love like mad and pursue happiness fiercely.

 

 

 

 

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13 Things Highly Successful People Do Not Waste Their Mental Energy On – Brianna Wiest

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Highly successful people (regardless of the variety of ways one could define being “successful”) all seem to understand a few core principles. Chief among them is that it is not your time, but your energy, that is limited each day and therefore, needs to be carefully managed.

This is why you hear stories of extremely accomplished people with odd habits, like eating the same thing for lunch each day or wearing a minimal “uniform” to work. These individuals understand the psychological concept of decision fatigue, which is the way in which the quality of your decision-making capabilities deteriorates over time. Think of it like this: In the morning, your tank is at 100%. As you move through your day, you expend your energy bit by bit. You don’t want to waste it, and unfortunately, most people do.

Often, this happen through something called microdistractions, or issues that are so small that they don’t seem to threaten your stamina, but which are also pertinent enough that they actually exhaust you slowly. Highly successful people do not waste their mental energy on things they don’t need to. Here, some of the sneakiest culprits:

1. Fear of the least likely outcome.

Worrying, though referred to as a “maladaptive trait,” actually has an evolutionary connection to intelligence. This is why highly successful people are often more anxious by nature, Jeremy Coplan, lead author of a study published in Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience, explained to ABC News.

Be that as it is, to function well, you need to be able to discern which fears are worth responding to, and which are just your brain conjuring up the most extreme potential danger in order to “prepare” you to survive. This is an outdated, animalistic mechanism that does not help you in your day-to-day life. Highly successful people do not waste their energy being afraid of that which is least likely to occur

2. Other people’s melodramas.

Anyone can understand how easy it is to get caught up in the intrigue of what’s happening in other people’s lives. (NPR reports that there’s an evolutionary function to this as well, which is that gossip actually helps us predict who is a potential friend or foe.) Regardless, getting caught up to the point of worrying and/or obsessing about someone else’s life status can be paralyzing. Highly successful people prioritize their own wellbeing, and that very rarely includes immersing themselves in petty melodramas that they have no ability to resolve regardless.

3. Microdistractions.

Your push notifications alarm you every time your favorite author posts a new tweet. You don’t lay out your clothes or pack your bag the night before you have to leave for work, and so your first moments of the day are spent scrambling to be on time.

You check and answer emails four times within your first hour of the day. You take a phone call from your mom at 10:15 and it carries on until 11. You scroll mindlessly through your news feeds not to educate yourself on what’s happening on any given day, but as a manner of distracting yourself for a “break.”

It’s easy to see how quickly microdistractions can add up. Before you know it, it’s the afternoon, you feel exhausted and barely anything to show for it. Highly successful people don’t give their mental energy to anything that is not going to have a significant impact on their lives in the long-term. They designate specific hours and times to solely focusing on their most crucial tasks, and then prioritize from there.

4. Ruminating, but not taking action.

The moment when reflecting becomes ruminating is when the intent to act dissolves in place of needlessly replaying certain scenarios or issues through your mind again and again.

Highly successful people are usually very self-aware, or at least try to be. This means that they spend a lot of time reviewing their behaviors and interactions, and evaluating how they can improve. However, they do not waste their mental energy just thinking about what went wrong and not actively changing what they need to make the correction.

5. Getting it “right” the first time.

Highly successful people are often masters of their crafts and leaders in their fields. Their work comes across as innovative, unprecedented, and very detail-oriented. What you might not realize is that it often doesn’t begin that way. People who aspire to be successful often scare themselves into beginning their work just because their first attempts may not compare to someone else’s final product. However, highly successful people do not worry about getting it perfect, they worry about just showing up and beginning. Once the fear of being “wrong” is out of the way, it opens a portal to be more creative and productive. There’s always time to improve later.

6. The opinion of anyone they wouldn’t want to switch places with.

Highly successful people are very aware of the impact that their social circles have on the quality of their lives. They value their mentors, partners and teachers. However, they do not give any weight to the opinions of anyone they would not want to switch places with. In the same manner, they also do not worry about what those people potentially think of them.

7. Feeling guilty about taking time for themselves.

Established people understand that success is a holistic thing. You aren’t able to perform your best if you’re tired, undernourished, or experiencing any other kind of extreme imbalance in your life.

That’s why it’s common to see highly successful people as committed to relaxation and wellness as they are work and productivity. They do not spend time guilting themselves over everything they could have gotten done over a three day weekend, or why they shouldn’t take time off if they really need it.

8. Justifying their place in life.

Often, committing to any kind of work that’s atypical incurs the questions and, at times, judgments of those who either don’t believe in your mission or are skeptical of its future success. However, consistently feeling the need to explain or justify your place in life is not only a tireless pursuit, it’s pointless. You are never going to earn the approval of people who don’t want to give it, and highly successful people understand that.

9. Senseless worrying and unchecked thought patterns.

One of the biggest ways that people rob themselves of their own energy is by worrying. Worrying is the practice of preparing for the worst possible outcome, and then believing it is not only possible, but most likely.

However, worrying does not make you more prepared to cope with life’s difficult moments, it makes you more inclined to actually create your fears. If you were to write down a list of everything you’ve ever worried about in life, you’d find that 99.9% of it was groundless, and didn’t “come true.”

If you were also to make a list of everything you didn’t worry about in life, you’d discover that worrying actually didn’t change the outcome of anything, it only zapped up your energy in the present. And if anything, worrying only made things more difficult and skewed and less enjoyable. It is not productive, and highly successful people train themselves to focus on anything else.

11. Trying to be liked by everyone.

Another striking trait of highly successful people is that they aren’t usually people pleasers. Their worst fear isn’t to be disliked by others, because they understand that they are going to be disliked by some people regardless of what they do in life. Instead, you could say that their real fear is actually not living the way they want and need to be out of fear that it would prevent them from “earning” the love and admiration they are desperate for.

12. Too much positive thinking.

It’s obvious that nobody achieves a great deal of success without overcoming their patterns of negative thinking. What’s less obvious is that highly successful people also don’t engage in an overabundance of positive thinking, as in excess it can often be subjective, skewed, and at times, distracting. Worse, too much positive thinking actually sets them up for failure, or disappointment. Instead, highly successful people master the power of neutral thinking, in which they aren’t trying to filter life to be more or less than what it is.

13. Anything they don’t deem to have long-term value. 

Highly successful people understand that what they put their energy into grows. If they want their worries to grow, they focus on them. If they want their success to grow, they focus on that instead. They are also very focused on the long-term, and therefore, highly successful people do not worry about that which they don’t deem to have value, even if it is something society tells them they should care about. These people are outliers, individualists, and most of all, free thinkers. They do not let their lives be dictated by that which the rest of the world is bogged down by.

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Social Interaction Is Critical for Mental and Physical Health – Jane E. Brody

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Hurray for the HotBlack Coffee cafe in Toronto for declining to offer Wi-Fi to its customers. There are other such cafes, to be sure, including seven of the eight New York City locations of Café Grumpy. But it’s HotBlack’s reason for the electronic blackout that is cause for hosannas. As its president, Jimson Bienenstock, explained, his aim is to get customers to talk with one another instead of being buried in their portable devices.

“It’s about creating a social vibe,” he told a New York Times reporter. “We’re a vehicle for human interaction, otherwise it’s just a commodity.” What a novel idea! Perhaps Mr. Bienenstock instinctively knows what medical science has been increasingly demonstrating for decades: Social interaction is a critically important contributor to good health and longevity.

Personally, I don’t need research-based evidence to appreciate the value of making and maintaining social connections. I experience it daily during my morning walk with up to three women, then before and after my swim in the locker room of the YMCA where the use of electronic devices is not allowed.

The locker room experience has been surprisingly rewarding. I’ve made many new friends with whom I can share both joys and sorrows. The women help me solve problems big and small, providing a sounding board, advice and counsel and often a hearty laugh that brightens my day.

And, as myriad studies have shown, they may also be helping to save my life. As the Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported, “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”

In a study of 7,000 men and women in Alameda County, Calif., begun in 1965, Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme found that “people who were disconnected from others were roughly three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than people with strong social ties,” John Robbins recounted in his marvelous book on health and longevity, “Healthy at 100.”

This major difference in survival occurred regardless of people’s age, gender, health practices or physical health status. In fact, the researchers found that “those with close social ties and unhealthful lifestyles (such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise) actually lived longer than those with poor social ties but more healthful living habits,” Mr. Robbins wrote. However, he quickly added, “Needless to say, people with both healthful lifestyles and close social ties lived the longest of all.”

In another study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1984, researchers at the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York found that among 2,320 men who had survived a heart attack, those with strong connections with other people had only a quarter the risk of death within the following three years as those who lacked social connectedness.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center also found that social ties can reduce deaths among people with serious medical conditions. Beverly H. Brummett and colleagues reported in 2001 that among adults with coronary artery disease, the mortality rate was 2.4 times higher among those who were socially isolated.

In a column I wrote in 2013 called “Shaking Off Loneliness,” I cited a review of research published in 1988 indicating that “social isolation is on a par with high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise or smoking as a risk factor for illness and early death.”

People who are chronically lacking in social contacts are more likely to experience elevated levels of stress and inflammation. These, in turn, can undermine the well-being of nearly every bodily system, including the brain.

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Absent social interactions, blood flow to vital organs is likely to be reduced and immune function may be undermined. Even how genes are expressed can be adversely affected, impairing the body’s ability to turn off inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and even suicide attempts.

In a 2010 report in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Debra Umberson and Jennifer Karas Montez, sociology researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, cited “consistent and compelling evidence linking a low quantity or quality of social ties with a host of conditions,” including the development and worsening of cardiovascular disease, repeat heart attacks, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, cancer and slowed wound healing.

The Texas researchers pointed out that social interactions can enhance good health through a positive influence on people’s living habits. For example, if none of your friends smoke, you’ll be less likely to smoke. According to the researchers, the practice of health behaviors like getting regular exercise, consuming a balanced diet and avoiding smoking, excessive weight gain and abuse of alcohol and drugs “explains about 40 percent of premature mortality as well as substantial morbidity and disability in the United States.”

Lack of social interactions also damages mental health. The emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce the damaging effects of stress and can foster “a sense of meaning and purpose in life,” the Texas researchers wrote.

Emma Seppala of the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, and author of the 2016 book “The Happiness Track,” wrote, “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them.

“In other words,” Dr. Seppala explained, “social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.”

She suggested that a societal decline in social connectedness may help to explain recent increases in reports of loneliness, isolation and alienation, and may be why loneliness has become a leading reason people seek psychological counseling. By 2004, she wrote, sociological research revealed that more than 25 percent of Americans had no one to confide in. They lacked a close friend with whom they felt comfortable sharing a personal problem.

For those seeking a health-promoting lifestyle, it’s not enough to focus on eating your veggies and getting regular exercise. Dr. Seppala advises: “Don’t forget to connect.”

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The Insane Amounts of Data We’re Using Every Minute (Infographic) – Rose Leadem

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With all the tweets, iMessages, streamed songs and Amazon prime orders, did you ever wonder just how much data is actually being generated every minute? To find out, cloud-based operating system Domo analyzed data usage over the past year, and shared the results in its sixth Data Never Sleeps report. It dives into online consumer behavior, examining the amount of data being generated every minute across popular apps and platforms including Google, Instagram, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and more.

By the looks of the research, things are only getting bigger. In 2012, there were approximately 2.2 billion active internet users. In 2017, active internet users reached 3.8 billion people — nearly 48 percent of the world’s population.

When it comes to social media, data usage is unsurprisingly high. Since last year, Snapchat alone saw a 294 percent increase in the amount of images shared per minute. Nearly 2.1 million snaps are shared every 60 seconds. On average, there are 473,400 tweets posted every minute, 49,380 Instagrams photos and 79,740 Tumblr posts.

So who’s behind all this social media madness? Americans upped their internet usage by 18 percent since 2017, however it’s not all going to Snapchat and Twitter. Much of it is going to video-streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube. Since last year, Netflix saw a whopping 40 percent increase in streaming hours, going from 69,444 hours to 97,222. And YouTube videos have reached 4.3 million views per minute. Even the peer-to-peer transactions app Venmo saw a major data jump, with 32 percent more transactions processed every minute compared to last year. Overall, Americans use 3.1 million GB of data every minute.

To learn more about our data usage of 2018, check out the infographic below.

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