Coffee lowers the risk of depression in women

And, according to a Finnish study, men too.

From the NY Times:

The new study, published in the latest issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine,  … analyz[ed] data on nearly 51,000 women taking part in the famous Nurses’ Health Study. Between 1996 and 2006, the women provided detailed information every two years on their caffeine intake, depression risk factors and overall health, including their weight, their use of hormones and their levels of exercise and smoking. Women who reported a diagnosis of depression or showed signs of it at the start of the study were excluded from the analysis.

During the decade that the women were followed, 2,607 cases of clinical depression were diagnosed. Over all, women who regularly drank coffee had a lower risk of depression — about 20 percent — than the women who abstained, and the risk was dose-dependent. In other words, the likelihood of depression fell with each additional cup of coffee, in this case up to as many as six cups a day.

What would you have done?

For some reason, a number of recent posts here are reminding me of an odd and unresolved problem I have had.  It may carry information about a particular region.  After all, it’s Texas, where our governor tries to get the whole state to pray on one day for rain and, when the rain does not appear, still regards himself as God’s favored son.  In addition to not believing in evolution and global warming.  And right now he’ front runner for the Republican nomination to run for POTUS.

I sometimes play dominos with a group of women whom I like a great deal.  I’m not a regular member, though, and so in a way I don’t see myself as setting or changing policy.

A few times there I have encountered a person who seems intentionally to want to give the impression of being a very sweet woman.  She is, she told me, a Jew for Jesus, and in that American way (as I think of it) her religion can take  odd and unexpected turns.  For example, it turns out that a lot of things can really lower her spirits, as she puts it, and so she makes some effort to avoid them.  For example, she has special software for playing movies that omits scenes of violence and, apparently, sex, particularly same-sex sex.  For the record, I’m the same about reports of cruelty to animals and I will tell people I don’t want to hear them.  However, the fact that same-sex sex is considered on a par with bloody murder lowered my sympathy a lot.

Still, none of this was affecting  my behavior, until it turned out that she had asked that no one swear while playing dominos.  It does lower her spirits.  And swearing includes “damn” in addition to everything else you might imagine.  And everyone was trying to meet her request, despite some being women with robust vocabularies for some occasions.

I sort of wish I had just said, “You can’t be serious; this isn’t even good for you.”  On the other hand, Houston, where I live, often takes some pride in performing the (selective) Southern gentle manners, and I doubt anyone at the table would have wanted me to liberate them from the constrainst she proposed.

I still think the request outrageous.  What would you have done?

Race attributions and clothing

It’s a commonplace that clothing style affects our attributions of gender. But now there’s evidence that it affects our race attributions as well.

It is commonly believed that race is perceived through another’s facial features, such as skin color. In the present research, we demonstrate that cues to social status that often surround a face systematically change the perception of its race. Participants categorized the race of faces that varied along White–Black morph continua and that were presented with high-status or low-status attire. Low-status attire increased the likelihood of categorization as Black, whereas high-status attire increased the likelihood of categorization as White; and this influence grew stronger as race became more ambiguous (Experiment 1). When faces with high-status attire were categorized as Black or faces with low-status attire were categorized as White, participants’ hand movements nevertheless revealed a simultaneous attraction to select the other race-category response (stereotypically tied to the status cue) before arriving at a final categorization. Further, this attraction effect grew as race became more ambiguous (Experiment 2). Computational simulations then demonstrated that these effects may be accounted for by a neurally plausible person categorization system, in which contextual cues come to trigger stereotypes that in turn influence race perception. Together, the findings show how stereotypes interact with physical cues to shape person categorization, and suggest that social and contextual factors guide the perception of race.

For the full article, go here.
(Thanks, N!)