Vital Statistics

A roundup of some unusual studies making news. As always, a mention here doesn’t mean an endorsement.

Tablet vs. the book: which one prevails when it comes to reading speed?

Finally, a win for the good old fashioned book. New research finds that reading speed decreases when using a tablet, such as a Kindle or Nook. The study was small, consisting of only 24 participants who enjoy and frequently read books. Each subject read from four platforms, including the Kindle, iPad, PC monitor, and a regular paper book. The subjects were tested for both reading speed and story comprehension.

The study, conducted by the Nielson Norman Group, found that when using a Kindle, participants read 10.7 percent slower than when reading off printed pages. Reading speed was 6.2 percent slower when reading from an iPad. However, despite the slower reading speeds, the results also indicated that participants preferred an e-reader to the printed book. Story comprehension remained almost the same among all platforms.

The power of touch

If you’re planning to buy a car in the near future, you may want to read this first. A new study out of Harvard, Yale and MIT, finds that the sense of touch can influence attitudes and behavior, even if the object is completely unrelated to the task.

For example, in one out of a series of experiments, 86 participants took part in a mock car sale – some sitting in hard, wooden chairs and others in cushioned chairs. Those that sat in a wooden chair were less likely to compromise on price. John Bargh, lead study author and Yale psychology professor, explains “Experiences with the physical world, such as hardness, heaviness or smoothness, activate the physical meaning of those concepts, but it also activates the abstract meanings of those concepts — hard may mean difficult, heavy may mean serious.”

The risks of cyberbullying

A new survey finds that “cyberbullying” is dangerous for the bully and the victim. The study finds bullying over the Internet or cell phones is associated with both physical and psychological consequences. The cross-sectional survey consisted of approximately 2,200 teenagers in two Finnish communities. The results showed that about 7 percent engaged in online bullying of others, 5 percent identified themselves as victims of bullying behavior, and 5.4 percent said they had bullied others and were victimized themselves.

Medpage Today reports that among the consequences, cyber victims had above average rates of self-perceived difficulties in life and one in four reported feeling unsafe. Physical effects included headaches, abdominal pains and difficulty sleeping. Cyberbullies reported emotional distress and behavioral problems such as difficulty concentrating and hyperactivity, as well as substance abuse. The study warns that teens who are a cyberbully and cybervictim may be effected the most.

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