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The Globe and Mail

Social disapproval, not fear, motivates smokers to quit

Disapproval curbs smoking

"In 2008, the United Kingdom became one of the first countries in Europe to make it mandatory for cigarette packets sold within the U.K. to display fear-provoking, graphic anti-smoking images, founded on the assumption that the use of fear is an effective method to encourage smokers to quit," says "However, in contrast to the assumed effects of fear on quitting intentions, a series of experiments conducted by [psychologists at Canterbury Christ Church University]consistently revealed that fear provoked by graphic images had no effect on smokers' intentions to stop smoking. Instead, the researchers found that smokers were more willing to consider quitting if they accepted non-smokers' negative attitudes toward their habit."

Relax to fight temptation

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"If you are trying to avoid temptation, stop fighting it and just relax," says Psych Central. "In a new study, researchers from the University of Illinois found that people who are 'actively' motivated to change bad habits may actually be setting themselves up for not only failure but to act impulsively. But those who used 'inaction' words, such as 'stop' or 'pause,' are more relaxed and, ultimately, more successful. 'Our research suggests that the relaxed state is better at inhibiting the pull of temptations,' said University of Illinois psychology professor Dr. Dolores Albarracin."

The power of friendship

"The gravitational pull of individual friendships can have an enormous cumulative effect on the quality of our lives," U.S. News reports. "With growing numbers of people living alone, either by choice or circumstance, friendships can occupy the emotional space that other people fill with spouses or significant others. … At the end of the day, a friend can be the emotional oasis that makes all the difference. 'Friends are what make us uniquely human,' says James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California at San Diego. 'There is no other species that interacts so widely with other members of their species.' "

The appeal of tragedy

"Why do we willingly subject ourselves, again and again, to … sad stories?" asks "Researchers led by Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick of Ohio State University have tentatively proposed some answers. In the journal Communication Research, they present evidence that watching tragedy inspires self-reflection, which allows us to refocus on the people in our lives we might otherwise take for granted. The melancholy emotions these tales arouse ultimately provoke pleasant feelings of gratitude. 'Psychological research suggests that close relationships make people happy and fulfilled,' they write. 'Tragedies appear to be an excellent means to reinforcing pro-social values that make these relationships steady and meaningful, as they celebrate enduring love, friendship and compassion even in ultimate agony and suffering.' "

Free pizza for vasectomies

"A Cape Cod, Mass., urologist is offering a free pizza to men who are seeking vasectomies in March, officials said," United Press International reports. "The Urology Associates of Cape Cod is running TV commercials offering a free pizza with a vasectomy. … March Madness is also tied into the deal as a way of enticing men to undergo the procedure, which requires men to sit on the couch and rest for a few days. The ads feature an attractive woman playing with a basketball and a voiceover that asks: 'Hey guys! Want to watch the college basketball tournament guilt-free?' Then, the free pizza with a vasectomy offer is presented. 'You know you've been thinking about a vasectomy anyway. Now's the time to get it done,' the voiceover says."

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Social media in your estate

"When Karen Williams' son died in a motorcycle crash, the Oregon woman turned to his Facebook account in hopes of learning more about the young man she had lost," Associated Press reports. "Williams found his password and e-mailed the company, asking administrators to maintain 22-year-old Loren Williams' account so she could look through his posts and comments by his friends. But within two hours, she said, Facebook changed the password, blocking her efforts. 'I wanted full and unobstructed access, and they balked at that,' said Williams, recalling her son's death in 2005. 'It was heartbreaking. I was a parent grasping at straws to get anything I could get.' Now lawmakers and attorneys in at least two U.S. states are considering proposals that would require Facebook and other social networks to grant access to loved ones when a family member dies, essentially making the site contents part of a person's digital estate."

Thought du jour

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."

Anais Nin (1903-77), French-Cuban author

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