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Fire Studies Shed New Light

Fire: these days, starting one is as easy as flicking the switch on a gas stove. But if you’ve ever been on a camping trip, you know first-hand how elusive a good fire can be. Especially when deprived of our modern tools, fire-starting can be quite an ordeal, leaving the would-be masters of the element scrambling to their smartphones for tips. Ancient humans, of course, didn’t have access to wifi. Much as we take it for granted these days, simply realizing that fire could be harnessed represents a huge developmental milestone for our species—not just light and heat but a means by which to obtain safer and tastier food. Some theorize that we began by “harvesting” fire from naturally occurrin

The Myth of "Addictive Personality"

Do you have an addictive personality? No. No, you don’t. How can we be so certain? Well, as it turns out that technically speaking, there’s no such thing. “The idea of an addictive personality is more pop-psychology than scientific,” writes Stephen Bright in The Conversation. In other words, the notion of addictive personality is about as about as scientifically rigorous as the Meyers-Briggs. For one thing, talking about the likelihood of someone succumbing to addiction in terms of personality demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how psychologists measure personality. In order for something to qualify as a personality trait, it must be broad (present across a variety of situations)

When Having a Snack Might Save You

Got an important decision to make? If you’re feeling hungry, new research suggests you should probably have a snack or a meal before you commit to a choice. Those are the findings from Dr. Benjamin Vincent of the University of Dundee’s Psychology department. Dr. Vincent’s study recruited 50 volunteers, polling them about their willingness to wait longer for better long-term outcomes when it came to food, money, and other rewards. Then the volunteers were polled again—after they had skipped a meal. Perhaps not surprisingly, the hungry participants were notably more likely to settle for a smaller food reward if it meant getting that treat sooner. We have probably all witnessed this in real lif