If your name is Larry, are you more likely to become a lawyer? And if your name is Denise are you more likely to become a dentist? Psychologists from a 2002 study say that our first and last names may have a correlation to the jobs we end up in due to “implicit egotism” in which we unconsciously associate ourselves with other things.
David Dobbs has a fascinating story in the new issue of Pacific Standard, which examines how the environment we live in, the support systems we have, and our feelings of loneliness change the way our genes express themselves. Meaning, each of us come with a blueprint of genes, but researchers like Steve Cole, a Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA School of Medicine, has found that some genes turn off and on like a dimmer switch depending on the activity in our environment. This is known as gene expression. Genes switch on to heal wounds and fight infection. Gene expression can determine what we look like. Dobbs writes: “When it comes down to it, really, genes don’t make you who you are. Gene expression does. And gene expression varies depending on the life you live.”
In The American Prospect, Monica Potts examines why low-income white women who don’t finish high school in the U.S. have seen their life expectancy drop by five years, while most Americans, including high school dropouts of other races, have seen their life expectancies rise. Though Potts walks us through the story of Crystal Wilson, who lived in Cave City, Arkansas and died at the age of 38, the answer still remains unclear.
In the new September issue of The Atlantic, Jordan Weissmann goes through several studies to examine who psychologists deem to be actual workaholics vs. workers who are just really dedicated to their jobs but not truly addicted to them. Estimates from one of the studies show that 10 percent of the American workforce are workaholics, though a much higher percentage of workers believe themselves to be one. I’d like to believe that I am one but let’s go through some of those symptoms: sleep problems (check), weight gain (check), high blood pressure (nope), anxiety (sometimes), depression (nope). Perhaps I am not a workaholic then, but I am halfway there.
A recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast looked at the following question: Does having a baby girl or baby boy influence whether or not a couple decides to get a divorce or stay together for the kids? Some research says yes, families with first-born girls are likelier to get a divorce, though it all seems dubious to me since divorces are hyper personal and are caused by so many different things.