Saturday, April 7, 2018

These Foods Are Good for Your Eyes

red peppers

Raw Red Peppers

Bell peppers give you the most vitamin C per calorie. That's good for the blood vessels in your eyes, and science suggests it could lower your risk of getting cataracts. It's found in many vegetables and fruits, including bok choy, cauliflower, papayas, and strawberries. Heat will break down vitamin C, so go raw when you can. Brightly colored peppers also pack eye-friendly vitamins A and E.
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sunflower seeds
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Sunflower Seeds and Nuts

An ounce of these seeds or almonds has half the amount of vitamin E the USDA recommends for adults each day. A large study found that vitamin E, together with other nutrients, can help slow age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from getting worse. It may also help prevent cataracts. Hazelnuts, peanuts (technically legumes), and peanut butter are also good sources of vitamin E.
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Dark, Leafy Greens

Kale, spinach, and collard greens, for example, are rich in both vitamins C and E. They also have the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These plant-based forms of vitamin A lower your risk of long-term eye diseases, including AMD and cataracts. Most people who eat Western diets don't get enough of them.
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Your retinas need two types of omega-3 fatty acids to work right: DHA and EPA. You can find both in fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and trout, as well as other seafood. Omega-3s also seem to protect your eyes from AMD and glaucoma. Low levels of these fatty acids have been linked to dry eyes.
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sweet potatoes
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Sweet Potatoes

Orange-colored fruits and vegetables -- like sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, mangos, and apricots -- are high in beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A that helps with night vision, your eyes' ability to adjust to darkness. One sweet potato also has more than half the vitamin C you need in a day and a little vitamin E.
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baked chicken
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Lean Meat and Poultry

Zinc brings vitamin A from your liver to your retina, where it's used to make the protective pigment melanin. Oysters have more zinc per serving than any other food, but you don't have to be a shellfish lover to get enough: Beef, pork, and chicken (both dark and breast meat) are all good sources.
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Beans and Legumes

Prefer a vegetarian, low-fat, high-fiber option to help keep your vision sharp at night and slow AMD? Chickpeas are also high in zinc, as are black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and lentils. A can of baked beans will do the job, too.
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It's a great package deal: The zinc in an egg will help your body use the lutein and zeaxanthin from its yolk. The yellow-orange color of these compounds blocks harmful blue light from damaging your retina. They help boost the amount of protective pigment in the macula, the part of your eye that controls central vision.
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Your body can't make lutein and zeaxanthin, but you can get them from squash all year long. Summer squash also has vitamin C and zinc. The winter kind will give you vitamins A and C as well as omega-3 fatty acids, too.
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broccoli and brussel sprouts
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Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

These related veggies come with another winning combination of nutrients: vitamin A (as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene), vitamin C, and vitamin E. They're all antioxidants that protect the cells in your eyes from free radicals, a type of unstable molecule that breaks down healthy tissue. Your retinas are especially vulnerable.
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Are You Eating These Fruits and Veggies Wrong?

fresh fruits and vegetables

Biggest Bang for Your Produce Buck

If you’re trying to work more fruits and vegetables into your diet, make sure you get the most out of them. How they’re prepared can make a big difference in the nutritional punch they pack. The right type of heat can bring out the nutrients in some, but you’ll need to eat others raw to get the biggest benefit.
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garlic cloves
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Raw Garlic

This is one powerful plant. It’s rich in selenium, an antioxidant that may help control high blood pressure and possibly lower your chances of some cancers. You can mix it into veggie stir-fries, casseroles, or tomato sauce for pasta, but you’ll get more nutrients if you eat it raw or add it just before the dish is finished cooking.
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blueberries in hand
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Fresh Fruit

This is a healthy snack that's rich in fiber, low in fat and calories, and packed with vitamins. Some types may even make you less likely to get type 2 diabetes. The best choices are blueberries, grapes, and apples. But the same can’t be said for fruit juice from the grocery store. It lacks the fiber of whole fruit and has a lot of added sugar.
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cooking tomato sauce
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Make Tomato Sauce

Pasta tossed with rich tomato sauce is an easy classic that’s good and good for you. Cooking fresh, diced tomatoes helps your body take in and use lycopene, a natural chemical that may make you less likely to have heart disease and some types of cancer.
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roasted carrots
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Cook Carrots

These popular veggies have natural chemicals, too, called carotenoids. They’re what make carrots orange, and they may help protect your eyes and possibly lower your chances of some cancers. Like lycopene, heat makes carotenoids easier for your body to use, so steam or lightly roast fresh carrots to get the most out of them.
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steamed broccoli
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Steam Broccoli

If you think raw broccoli is tough or tasteless, a quick steam can soften it up without killing off many of its nutrients. Unlike boiling or stir-frying in oil, steaming lets it hold onto most of a healthy compound called glucosinolate. That gives it its distinct odor and may help prevent certain types of cancer.
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hand adjusting pressure cooker
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Use Pressure With Mushrooms

These fungi are very low in calories and offer a unique flavor along with fiber and antioxidants. You can slice them raw to add to a salad, but if you prefer the texture of cooked mushrooms, steam them or heat them in a pressure cooker. Quick cooking can raise the amount of antioxidants in some types of mushrooms.
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baked sweet potatoes
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Bake Sweet Potatoes

These are rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, and calcium and magnesium that help you build strong, healthy bones. But how you cook your sweet potato can change the amount of starch and sugar in it. The best way to prepare one of these filling, naturally sweet gems is to bake it and serve it up with the skin in place. But skip the butter.
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How You Cook Matters

When you boil vegetables, both the water and high heat can drain some nutrients. But stir-frying or sauteeing can preserve more of those. And a quick zap in the microwave lets the veggie hold on to even more vitamins.
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steam rising from pot
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What About Steaming?

This can be a good way to keep the nutrients in fresh produce without adding any fat from oil or butter. And as a bonus, you can enjoy the steaming liquid as a veggie broth that’s full of all the nutrients from the veggies you cooked. But steam’s intense heat can destroy some nutrients in certain veggies, like kale, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts. You might use these in a crunchy, healthy salad instead.
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red egg timer
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Watch the Timing

When you use heat on any fresh vegetable, you want to keep as much of the flavor, look, texture, and nutrients as you can. Cook them only until they’re tender but still crisp, not mushy. If you’re making a lot, it can be a good idea to whip up small batches instead of big piles. That helps make sure they’re all cooked over the same amount of heat.
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woman using juicer
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Be Careful With Juicing

Juicing raw fruit is a trendy way to get tons of different nutrients in one glass, and there are plenty of places to buy one when you’re on the go. But use caution with that fresh, frothy treat. Fruit skins that haven’t been washed well can have bacteria that cause diarrhea. It’s best to carefully clean, cut, and squeeze your own juices.
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Foods That Give You an Energy Boost


Doesn't All Food Boost Energy?

Yes, but in different ways. Sugary drinks, candy, and pastries put too much fuel (sugar) into your blood too quickly. The ensuing crash leaves you tired and hungry again. “Complex carbs,” healthy fats, and protein take longer to digest, satisfy your hunger, and provide a slow, steady stream of energy.
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It’s a complex carbohydrate. That means it’s full of fiber and nutrients. Oatmeal is slower to digest and supplies energy evenly instead of all at once. A bowl in the morning will keep you going for hours.
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A single one has just 70 calories, and yet has 6 grams of protein. That provides fuel that gets released slowly. It also has more nutrients per calorie than most other foods. That helps it satisfy hunger. As a result, you’re more likely to skip that mid-morning doughnut in the office break room that will spike your blood sugar and crash your energy.
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Trimmed of skin, it’s a great source of lean protein. A piece of grilled chicken with some steamed or lightly dressed greens makes a perfect light lunch that won’t weigh you down and will fuel you steadily until dinner. And chicken has less of that unhealthy saturated fat than other meats like pork, beef, and lamb.
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beef liver
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Beef Liver

Without enough vitamin B12, your energy can lag. This is one of the best sources. It also has loads of protein to keep you fueled for a long time. If you just can’t do liver, you can get your B12 from meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.
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Besides being a good source of low-fat protein, they’re loaded with zinc. That helps your body fight off germs that could run you down and make you feel tired. Try them raw with a squeeze of lemon when they’re in season, or roast them in the oven or on the grill.
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They’re a great source of protein, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Beans also have plenty of fiber to help slow digestion. They're rich in magnesium, too. That helps your cells make energy.
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They’re not for everyone, but sardines do provide high-quality animal protein for steady energy. They also have loads of omega-3 “marine” fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that help prevent heart disease. If they’re just too fishy for you, try salmon, tuna, or mackerel.
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It’s those omega-3s again. Walnuts have one in particular that your body uses for energy (alpha-linolenic acid). Though nuts are high in calories, studies show that people who eat them don’t gain weight or have other signs of bad health from them. That could be because the fiber slows how your body takes them in and the “healthy” fats satisfy hunger.
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It’s where many of us get our morning caffeine jolt. And it works. It boosts your energy and keeps you more alert. Just don’t overdo it. Caffeine can make you jittery and interfere with your sleep if you have too much, you’re not used to it, or you have it late in the day.
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A simple cup of tea is a low-calorie way to replace sugary sodas and soft drinks that can spike and then crash your energy levels in the middle of the day. That switch makes you more likely to get the nutrients and fluids you need each day, which can help keep you alert and energized. Some teas have caffeine that can give you a little boost, too.
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Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries: They’re perfect if you want something sweet that doesn’t have the calorie blast and “sugar crash” of a doughnut or candy bar. Berries also have antioxidants and other nutrients that help nourish and protect cells all over your body.
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dark chocolate
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Dark Chocolate

If you just have to have candy, this is a good choice. It’s lower in sugar than candy bars and milk chocolate. It’s also been shown to improve mood and brain function. Antioxidants in the cocoa can help protect cells, lower blood pressure, and improve blood flow. This can keep you healthy and energized. Dark chocolate does have fat, so check the label and keep portions small.
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When your body doesn’t have enough, you get tired. It also helps carry fuel and nutrients to your cells and helps get rid of waste. People who drink more of it usually take in less fat, sugar, salt, cholesterol, and total calories. That leaves more room for healthy nutrients that keep you energized. It’s especially important to drink up when you exercise. Have 8 ounces before and after your workouts -- more if your circuit is longer than 30 minutes.
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toast with avocado and tomato
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Foods for Exercise

The best fuel for exercise is carbohydrates, preferably “complex” ones like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Healthy fats from fish, nuts, vegetable oils, and avocados can help fuel endurance sports like long-distance running. Protein can help boost an immune system worn down by exercise. It can also repair muscle that tears naturally when you strengthen it, like when you lift weights, for example.
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Inspirational Quote – April 07, 2018

“Don’t expect only happiness in your life. There are going to be dark times, but remember that stars need darkness to shine.”

I think most of us know that life isn’t unending happiness but a combination of happiness and unhappiness, unfortunately for some of us, in unequal measures. However, that’s life and there’s nothing we can do about it but accept and do our best to cope and move on from the unhappy times. The only good thing, if there is such a thing, is that the unhappy times should bring us the realization that the happy times need to be enjoyed and treasured. Just like the stars need darkness in order to shine, so the happy times need the unhappy times to make us value them as we should.

Scale in the Story of Interbeing

In contemporary society, bigger is better: bigger homes, bigger salaries, bigger acts, bigger influences. But what about all the small acts carried out each day by those who remain invisible to the masses? Are their intentions deemed less worthy, their outcomes less significant? In this inspiring essay, author Charles Eisenstein challenges the belief that in order to leave an imprint, our actions must be far-reaching and yield great returns. Instead, he argues, by scaling down, even the simplest encounters and undertakings can generate profound change. "For me, scaling down implies a kind of trust that it is okay to do just this, right here, right now. Letting go of controlling the macroscopic outcome, action becomes a kind of prayer, a kind of aligning oneself with the world one wants to see."

Friday, April 6, 2018

How to Feel More Alive at Work

A new book leverages neuroscience to explain why work is a slog—and how to bring back our curiosity and excitement.

Why do we devote so much effort to being happier in our personal lives, but accept that work sucks?
Americans are stressed and disengaged. Many of us complain about Mondays; we TGIF. We drag ourselves to the office and wait for the clock to strike 5 p.m., but we think that’s all normal. 
“We’ve sometimes lost our zest for our jobs and accepted working as a sort of long commute to the weekend,” writes London Business School professor Daniel M. Cable in his new book, Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do. “It’s not meaningful or exciting, but that’s why they call it work, right?”
Our indifference to work is biological, Cable explains. The dopamine circuit in our brains—the “seeking system”—generates interest, curiosity, and excitement, and it’s linked to intrinsic motivation. But thanks to employers who try to motivate us with money and punishment, who keep us confined to specific but repetitive tasks, our seeking system doesn’t get activated most of the time.
Cable’s book aims to bust our zombie-like attitude toward work. He wants to convince readers that a different vision of 9-5 is possible—and he offers a variety of specific, simple activities we can do to rediscover our enthusiasm.

Share your best self

If work seems to bring out the worst in you or others, one way to combat that is to reflect on the best.
The Best Self activity, developed by researcher Laura Roberts and her colleagues, involves telling a story about when you were at your best—when you displayed the qualities that you most cherish. In the book, for example, one employee talks about helping his nephew with math homework, bringing calm and empathy to the boy’s frustration.
When employees do this exercise during orientation, Cable explains, they activate their seeking systems—and afterward they tend to perform better, make fewer errors, and stay at the company longer. That’s because they feel more authentic at work, able to be themselves and share their perspectives and strengths.
You can also share stories about your coworkers’ best selves, and this version of the activity may be even more impactful. “[It expands] people’s views of themselves,” Cable writes. “Just as a fish doesn’t know that it’s wet, we don’t always know our strengths because they seem so natural and normal to us.” 

Use your strengths

Once we’ve identified some of our best qualities, then we can put them to use.
In the Use Your Strengths exercise, employees identify what their strengths are—from honesty to social intelligence to judgment—and then find a novel way to use them each day for a week. Research suggests that this practice can help people feel happiermore alive, and less depressed. A Gallup poll of 1.2 million employees found that the more people use their strengths at work, the more likely they are to be energetic, laugh and smile, learn interesting things at work, and have an excellent quality of life.
Recognizing and leveraging strengths seem particularly important for teams with diverse members, Cable notes. When people on a diverse team feel more valued and respected, they offer more opinions, and teams learn and perform better. When an entire organization focuses on cultivating strengths, it can have ripple effects on customer and employee engagement, safety, and profits.

Invent your own job title

What if your job title were “Heralder of Happy News” or “Duchess of Data”? Would that change the way you felt about work?
In fact, research suggests that it might. In one of my favorite activities in the book, employees invent their own whimsical and meaningful job titles, focusing on their values, talents, and contributions. The COO becomes the Minister of Dollars and Sense; the administrative assistant becomes the Goddess of Greetings.
This tiny shift can help you feel less emotionally exhausted even when your job is demanding, because it allows you to express your identity and feel more comfortable communicating with others. When groups were challenged to build a spaghetti tower—a test of teamwork—the ones who had created and shared unique job titles performed better.

Change your story

Rewriting your job title is a way of taking control of your identity—and another way to do this is to change your story about work.
As Cable explains, people have an internal narrative describing what they do for a living, which ranges from the “how” to the “why.” For example, I might say that I write and edit (the “how”), or that I help people live happier, more meaningful lives (the “why”). Although our “how” may be uninspiring, focusing on the “why” could give deeper significance to our work.
“The same behaviors and activities take on very different meaning to us depending on the stories we tell ourselves about what we are doing,” Cable writes. “When we personally understand and believe in the why of our actions, we have greater resilience and stamina when the going gets tough.”

See your impact

To understand the “why” of what we do, it helps to see your impact on others firsthand.
That was the lesson that researcher Adam Grant learned in one of his famous studies, where he invited call center employees to meet a scholarship recipient who was benefitting from the funds they had raised. The month after this brief encounter, they spent over 40 percent more time on the phone and raised over 70 percent more money. 
“Purpose is not something logical and rational,” writes Cable. “It needs to be felt.”

Cultivate a learning mindset

The drive to perform—to prove ourselves in the eyes of others—can be anxiety-provoking. But what if we approached work as a learning opportunity?
When we feel safe to play and experiment at work, we tend to be more intrinsically motivated and more resilient, Cable explains. And we don’t sacrifice the bottom line, either. For example, salespeople who focus on learning tend to sell even more than their counterparts who focus on achievement.
To hone your own learning mindset, set goals to learn or improve rather than to achieve a certain outcome—like holding more productive meetings rather than winning Manager of the Year. Cable suggests that companies carve out specific time for play and experimentation—like hackathons, where employees take a day or two to develop totally new ideas, prototype them, and pitch them to the group. Humble leaders can also inspire a learning mindset in others.
The early experiments with Cable’s suggested activities have mostly been in white-collar professions or among students, so it remains to be seen how they would work in other settings. But in general, Alive at Work offers good news for people suffering from stress or boredom at work. It tells us that those feelings are normal—rooted in biology, how our brains are responding to the modern work environment—and that we can change them through a few simple actions. By taking steps to express our true selves, experiment, and connect with our purpose at work, we can learn to love what we do (or at least like it a little more).

Inspirational Quote – April 06, 2018

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”

It doesn’t take strength to do what we do every day as normally it involves just going along with whatever we have to in order to earn a living, run a household, a social life etc. etc. We do what we know we have to because that’s what life usually entails, just getting on with it. Strength comes into play when things don’t go the way we expect or want, and we doubt ourselves in being able to cope and overcome successfully. Much easier for us to ignore or expect someone else to sort things out for us. However, finding the strength to do it ourselves this time enables us to cope better the next time, and the next………..

The Benefits of Being a Misfit

When master biographer Walter Isaacson sits down to chat with bestselling author Adam Grant, he shares secrets and insights on the inner and outer lives of great innovators like Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Leonardo da Vinci. Who was a misfit? Who was a perfectionist? Who had a notebook full of unfinished projects? What did they have in common? In this fascinating conversation, Isaacson and Grant explore the roles that curiosity, creativity, teambuilding, self-knowledge, kindness, and cruelty had in the success of these great men, and draw connections to life and work today. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

How the Threat of Climate Change Makes You Biased

Faced with a challenge that requires a global response, humans cling more tightly to their clan.

The prospect of a dangerously warming planet inspires us to cling more tightly to our tribe. That is the discouraging finding of two newly published studies.
One reports that confronting people with climate-change warnings provoked higher levels of ethnocentrism among residents of a central European nation—and decreased their intentions of acting in Earth-friendly ways. The other finds the threat of global warming increases group conformity, leading people to more tightly endorse the truisms their circle subscribe to.
The results aren’t surprising, if you consider the long line of research that finds threat of any kind tends to foster this sort of solidarity. It’s just that this problem will require a globally coordinated response—not the insular, defensive crouch it apparently induces.
Both papers are published in the journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.
For the first paper, a team led by University of Salzburg psychologist Isabella Uhl compared the responses of people in an individualistic nation (Austria) with those in a more communal culture (Argentina).
Participants were presented with either threatening information about climate change, or non-threatening facts about planet Earth. The climate-change-related statements included facts about rising sea levelsfloods, and the extinction of species.
Afterward, all noted “their willingness to engage in 12 pro-environmental behaviors in the coming year,” and expressed their level of agreement with six statements related to ethnocentrism, such as “I don’t think it is to our advantage to mix with people from other cultural or ethnic groups.”
In both nations—slightly in Argentina, significantly in Austria—those who were told about climate-related threats said they were less likely to adopt Earth-friendly behaviors than those who were not. This reflects the fact that the negative scenarios put them in a bad mood, which apparently made them less receptive to change.
What’s more, those exposed to the threat also expressed more ethnocentric views—a trend that was again only slight in Argentina, but significant in Austria. This, too, was likely the result of the negative frame of mind they were in, although the researchers note it could also reflect the impulse to scapegoat outsiders.
“Across cultures, people resolve climate-change threat in symbolic ways, rather than by trying to address the problem itself,” the researchers conclude.
In the second paper, a team led by University of Leipzig psychologist Markus Barth report that, in three studies, threatening news about climate change increased people’s conformity to the norms of their group. This was true for, among others, a radical leftist organization, which suggests this type of fear triggers not conservatism per se, but rather an impulse to close ranks with those we trust.
Close-minded conformity presents rather obvious problems, but the researchers write that it also could make it easier for a smart, responsible leader to get things accomplished.
“This emphasizes the responsibility of decision-makers and authority figures within a group,” they write. “Stressing values of tolerance or respect to be defining attributes of the group may motivate members to conform to these norms.”
Alternatively, if leaders “nurture fear and intolerance ... the threat of climate change will indeed breed social conflict,” they add.
Together, the findings point to powerful human impulses we would be wise to keep in mind. Incorporating the notion of group identity could produce interesting new ideas for inspiring pro-environmental behavior. For instance, the idea of collective action by our clan to save the environment could become popular if it makes our group seem heroic, thereby raising our status.
In the long term, convincing people to adopt a different collective identity—as citizens of the world—may be the most promising solution. But one thing is for certain: If we are to combat climate change, we’ll need to reframe the fight in ways that align with our intuitions.
This story originally appeared as “How the Threat of Climate Change Spurs Ethnocentrism” on Pacific Standard, an editorial partner site. Subscribe to the magazine in print and follow Pacific Standard on Twitter to support journalism in the public interest.