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Coming clean: Americans actually ‘like’ this household chore

April 18, 2019

When it comes to tackling household chores, most people can identify a favorite task (or at least one they can tolerate), as well as a job that they would happily relinquish, according to findings of a survey of more than 1,000 Americans conducted by Clorox.

While favoring any chore feels like a stretch, some chores (such as vacuuming) certainly beat others (e.g., mopping), in terms of the amount of time and labor required to get them done.

Asked about their favorite task, more than one-third of respondents (37%) said they preferred doing the laundry, according to a report by Real Simple magazine.

The study—named “The Dirt on Spring Cleaning: American’s Top Cleaning Confessions”—also found that many homeowners were partial to cleaning the kitchen (chosen by 32%). And their least-favorite task? Organizing and dusting bedrooms, which is highly rated by only 11% of the survey cohort.

Clorox’s new survey shared a slew of other juicy cleaning facts: Most people are either Clean Freaks or Scramblers when it comes to tidying up, though Emotional Cleaners also are relatively common.

Fully 31% of respondents admitted that they never deep-clean their homes—or do it rarely—and 27% said that their microwave is splattered with unknown food.

Amusingly enough, a whopping 78% concede that they hide clutter or messes, mostly in a bedroom or closet, when cleaning in a rush.

The survey reveals that 93% of U.S. homeowners. are bothered by mess and dirt: Almost nobody likes living in a cluttered or dirty home. But how everyone tackles that mess can reveal a lot about different personalities and preferences—and maybe the key to a harmonious household is finding someone who will tackle the chores you like the least, and vice versa. Who knew cleaning could be so romantic?

Research contact: @Clorox

Greet (and eat) the ‘croiffle’ at one of Godiva’s 2,000 new cafes

April 18, 2019

For nearly 100 years, Godiva has made life sweeter and more pleasurable for chocoholics worldwide. But until April 17, the Belgian confectioner offered only its beloved premium-quality boxed chocolates, chocolate-covered strawberries, ice cream, and drip coffee at its 800 boutique stores across 105 nations.

Starting with a Manhattan location this week, Godiva has announced that it is rolling out 2,000 cafes through 2025, at which the company will offer a menu of fanciful food items, including the “croiffle”— a croissant and waffle hybrid that’s stuffed with fillings like cheese or chocolate and pressed on a waffle iron, The Chicago Tribune reports. Other items include an expanded list of coffees and a new collection of teas; as well as grab-and-go items such as sandwiches and yogurt parfaits. And of course chocolates.

The cafes mark Godiva’s first foray into prepared meals, the Tribune notes. It’s all part of an ambitious growth plan spearheaded by CEO Annie Young-Scrivner, who took over Godiva’s helm in 2017 after serving as a top executive at Starbucks. Her goal: to increase its revenue fivefold by 2025, the news outlet says.

The company, which is privately owned by Turkish Yildiz Holding, doesn’t report sales or profits—but according to reports, Godiva was about a $1 billion business in 2017. It expects 40% of its total sales to come from the cafes in the future.

“We really have a stronghold on formal gifting but we want to expand to everyday consumption,” Young-Scrivner said in a phone interview.

A few of the current boutiques will be converted into cafes, but Godiva is looking beyond malls and will also have stand-alone storefronts and airport locations.

Research contact: @GODIVA

CNN to host five top Democratic candidates at back-to-back town halls on April 22

April 18, 2019

Five Democratic presidential hopefuls will take questions and lay out policies, one right after the other, at CNN town halls next Monday, April 22, in New Hampshire—the state that traditionally hosts the first primary challenge of the campaign season, the cable news network has announced

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana, Senator Kamala Harris (California), Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) will participate in the live, internationally telecast event.

The current leader in the race—former Vice President Joe Biden, with 27% of the vote in Iowa, according to a recent Monmouth University poll—is still undeclared; and, therefore, has not been invited to the event.

The CNN town halls are being co-hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College and the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. The presidential candidates will field questions directly from students and young New Hampshire Democrats, said a CNN spokesperson, who added that the audience will be drawn from the two schools and a pool of young Democrats living in the state.

Chris Cuomo will moderate the Klobuchar (7 p.m. ET) and Sanders (9 p.m. ET) town halls, Anderson Cooper will moderate the Warren (8 p.m. ET) and Buttigieg (11 p.m. ET) town halls, and Don Lemon will moderate the Harris (10 p.m. ET) town hall.

The CNN town halls will take place on the campus of Saint Anselm College, and has been scheduled coincide with the release of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School’s new national poll of young voters.

Research contact: @CNNPolitics

Too much information (TMI) is now a worldwide problem

April 17, 2019

Are you media-bashed? Are there just too many tweets, hashtags, news reports, Facebook comments, curated photos, streaming videos, surveys, petitions, and emails for you to process in a day—and more coming all the time?

You have plenty of company—based on findings of a study conducted in Europe by the Technical University of Denmark, Technische Universität Berlin, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, and University College Cork; and published by the journal, Nature Communications.

Indeed, researchers have found that our collective attention span is narrowing due to the negative effects of an overabundance of social media, plus the hectic 24-hour news cycle to which we exposed.

What’s more, collectively, sociologists, psychologists, and teachers have warned of an emerging crisis stemming from a  fear of missing out (FOMO), the pressure to keep up-to-date on social media, and breaking news coming at us 24/7. So far, the evidence to support these claims has only been hinted at or has been largely anecdotal. There has been an obvious lack of a strong empirical foundation.

“It seems that the allocated attention in our collective minds has a certain size, but that the cultural items competing for that attention have become more densely packed. This would support the claim that it has indeed become more difficult to keep up to date on the news cycle, for example.” says Professor Sune Lehmann from DTU Compute.

The scientists have studied Twitter data from 2013 to 2016, books from Google Books going back 100 years, movie ticket sales going back 40 years, and citations of scientific publications from the last 25 years. In addition, they have gathered data from Google Trends (2010-2018), Reddit (2010-2015), and Wikipedia (2012-2017).

When looking into the global daily top 50 hashtags on Twitter, the scientists found that peaks became increasingly steep and frequent: In 2013 a hashtag stayed in the top 50 for an average of 17.5 hours. This gradually decreases to 11.9 hours in 2016.

This trend is mirrored when looking at other domains, online and offline–and covering different periods. Looking, for instance, at the occurrence of the same five-word phrases (n-grams) in Google Books for the past 100 years, and the success of top box office movies. The same goes for Google searches and the number of Reddit comments on individual submissions.

“We wanted to understand which mechanisms could drive this behavior. Picturing topics as species that feed on human attention, we designed a mathematical model with three basic ingredients: “hotness,” aging, and the thirst for something new.” says Dr. Philipp Hövel, lecturer for applied mathematics, University College Cork.

When more content is produced in less time, it exhausts the collective attention earlier. The shortened peak of public interest for one topic is directly followed by the next topic, because of the fierce competition for novelty.

“The one parameter in the model that was key in replicating the empirical findings was the input rate— the abundance of information. The world has become increasingly well connected in the past decades. This means that content is increasing in volume, which exhausts our attention and our urge for ‘newness’ causes us to collectively switch between topics more rapidly.” says postdoc Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Since the available amount of attention remains more or less the same, the result is that people are more rapidly made aware of something happening and lose interest more quickly. However, the study does not address attention span on the level of the individual person, says Sune Lehmann:

Our data only supports the claim that our collective attention span is narrowing. Therefore, as a next step, it would be interesting to look into how this affects individuals, since the observed developments may have negative implications for an individual’s ability to evaluate the information they consume. Acceleration increases, for example, the pressure on journalists to keep up with an ever-changing news landscape. We hope that more research in this direction will inform the way we design new communication systems, such that information quality does not suffer even when new topics appear at increasing rates.”

Research contact: @DTUtweet

Tiger Woods swings back with a Masters win

April 17, 2019

It’s been a long time since Tiger Woods last won a Masters tournament—14 years—but Americans love a comeback.

Branding experts say his single-stroke victory on the 18th green during the final round on April 14 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia also shows that Woods, at 43, is still a winning investment for Nike and his other sponsors, NBC News reported.

Woods delivered $22.5 million in media exposure for Nike during the tournament on Sunday, according to Apex Marketing Group.

“He’s eclipsed what he provided Nike in brand exposure for the four majors last year with just this one major,” Apex President Eric Smallwood told the network news outlet. “He’s got that drive now and he’s playing the best golf he’s played in recent years. I think he’s going to continue to provide Nike with enhanced exposure because the TV is going to follow him.”

President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on April 15 that he would be awarding Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom: “Spoke to @TigerWoods to congratulate him on the great victory he had in yesterday’s @TheMasters, & to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!

Bob Dorfman, creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco told NBC News that Woods’ victory—especially if it is followed by future wins—could go a long way to helping him to re-engage the wide variety of brands he endorsed before a sex scandal and tabloid-ready divorce prompted brands like Gatorade, Accenture, and AT&T to drop him.

“It legitimizes him — there were certainly questions about whether he was still viable,” he said.

This is good news for sponsors seeking a return on their investment, and for Woods’ own bottom line. “I would not be surprised if, in the long run, this win yesterday at Augusta is worth $50 to $100 million in future benefits to Tiger. He will see revenue streams from this win for years to come,” said Rick Burton, the David Falk professor of sport management at Syracuse University.

Research contact: @NBCNews

The Bay State’s Bill Weld challenges Trump for 2020 GOP nomination

April 17, 2019

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld—who served the Bay State from 1991 to 1997—announced on April 15 that he would challenge President Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln—equality, dignity and opportunity for all,” Weld, age 73, said in a written announcement that made no mention of  Trump, the Journal noted. Instead, he referenced “great political strife” and blamed both parties for a “win at all cost” mentality.

“It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag,” Weld’s statement read.

Weld represents a flank of the GOP that sees Mr. Trump as disruptive to longstanding party ideology on topics such as foreign policy and trade, but this group has been largely muffled since the 2016 election.

Trump commands widespread support among the Republican base, and he has a formidable re-election war chest. The Trump campaign said it raised $30 million in the first three months of this year and had $40 million in the bank as of March 31. The campaign also is fully integrated with the Republican National Committee, giving it an additional $42 million in available cash.

“Trump’s grip on the party is strong,” Republican donor and Trump fundraiser Dan Eberhart said. “The party isn’t looking for a Massachusetts liberal.”

Mr. Weld served two terms as governor in the 1990s and was viewed as a moderate, reflecting the state’s electoral makeup. In 2008, he endorsed Barack Obama over fellow Republican John McCain. In 2016, he ran as the running mate to Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

The Massachusetts resident is banking on a strong performance in New Hampshire, which will hold the first-in-the-nation primary in February 2020

According to a Newsweek report, an incumbent president hasn’t faced a primary challenger since Pat Buchanan challenged, and lost, to George H.W. Bush in 1992.

The weekly news magazine has said that there are four other Republicans who could possibly challenge the Trump machine for the presidency—naming the possibilities as  Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, newly re-elected Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Nebraska Senator Benn Sasse.

Research contact: @WSJ

Autism rates ‘erupt’ in New Jersey

April 16, 2019

Researchers at Rutgers University have discovered that preschoolers in New Jersey have the highest incidence of autism ever recorded in the United States, according to an April 15 report by News-Medical.net.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.

Walter Zahorodny, an associate professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who was responsible for running the study—in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in New Jersey—has revealed that, among four-year-olds, the rate of autism increased by 43% between 2010 and 2014; with one out of every 23 four-year-old boys being diagnosed with autism.

Zahorodny said that the increasing rates of autism in children in the Garden State show no signs of slowing, noting, “The explosive rate of autism is impossible to ignore. There’s no let-up. I really don’t understand why the rate is going up in this way.”

Risk factors associated with ASD incidence include advanced parental age, maternal illness during pregnancy, genetic mutations, and premature birth.

“These are true influences exerting an effect, but they are not enough to explain the high rate of autism prevalence,” Zahorodny said.

“There are still undefined environmental risks that contribute to this significant increase—factors that could affect a child in [his or her] development in utero or related to birth complications or to the newborn period. We need more research into non-genetic triggers for autism.”

Possible symptoms of autism in preschool-age children include delayed speech development, rejecting physical gestures of affection, avoiding eye contact, showing little interest in interacting with other children, or preferring to play with toys in a repetitive manner over engaging with imaginative play.

Children who are diagnosed with autism by their fourth birthday are often diagnosed early because they present moderate to severe symptoms of autism and catch the attention of pediatricians and early childhood educators. One in 35 children in New Jersey is diagnosed by this milestone.

The study analyzed data from the health and special education records of 129,354 children who turned four between 2010 and 2014, along with 128,655 children who were 8 years old during the same period.

The data for New Jersey was sourced from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM), a network that has monitored rates of autism diagnoses for almost 20 years.

Along with researchers in New Jersey, researchers in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin analyzed health records of almost 71,000 children.

Disparities in ASD prevalence were also highlighted by the study, with the prevalence of ASD in four-year-old white children standing at 7.7 per 1,000 children in Missouri (2014), but 29.3 in New Jersey (2014). Data for black children in New Jersey showed a prevalence of 24.7 per 1,000 (2014), and prevalence in Hispanic children was 28.2 per 1,000 in New Jersey (2014).

Zahorodny deemed the results to be “consistent, broad, and startling,” believing that “It’s very likely that the next time we survey autism among children, the rate will be even higher.”

Research contact: zahorodn@njms.rutgers.edu

Look ‘fly’: Allbirds is dropping five limited-edition sneakers for Earth Day

April 16, 2019

In celebration of Earth Day, on April 22, Allbirds has announced that, each day this week, the company will release one of five new limited-edition colors inspired by endangered birds.

More than one billion people in 192 nations now take part in what has become the largest civic-focused day of action worldwide—and Allbirds, the trendy, environmentally friendly footwear brand based in San Francisco, hopes that its customers will be wearing its new sneakers for the occasion.

All proceeds from sales of the new collection will be donated to the National Audubon Society. What’s more, the five birds that are the inspiration for Allbirds’ Earth Day shoe styles were chosen because they are featured in Audubon’s Birds and Climate Report: Species on the Brink—which shows that half of all birds in the U.S. are at risk of losing the places they call home because of climate change.

The Painted Redstart is found in the Southwest, the Scarlet Tanager migrates long distances, and the Mountain Bluebird is a voracious insect eater (93% of its diet), and although they are all very different birds, they may share a similar fate. For all three birds, their summer homes are shrinking and shifting so rapidly due to climate change that they may not be able to adapt fast enough.

The Pygmy Nuthatch is a small bird that tends to gather in fussy flocks, and the Allen’s Hummingbird only lays two eggs per clutch. These two tiny birds are climate-threatened because both their summer and their winter homes are shrinking and shifting dramatically due to rising temperatures and the impact of climate change.

The new collection comprises five different color combinations for the Wool Runner($95) and Tree Runner ($95) styles. Kicking off this special Earth Day-themed event is the Painted Redstart Tree Runner on Monday, April 15.

You’ll need to check back on the Allbirds website every day to see and shop their final forms, but you can get a sneak peek of the colors now with the above illustrations.

Tuesday, April 16: Pygmy Nuthach Wool Runner

Wednesday, April 17: Mountain Bluebird Wool Runner

Thursday, April 18: Allen’s Hummingbird Tree Runner

Friday, April 19: Scarlet Tanager Wool Runner

Research contact: @Allbirds

Just humor him: Trump was joking about loving WikiLeaks, Sarah Sanders says

April 16, 2019

“I love WikiLeaks,” Donald Trump exulted in October 2016 during a campaign rally. “Boy, they are good. You gotta read WikiLeaks!” ended

But on April 11—after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in London and ejected from Ecuador’s embassy following his seven-year asylum there—President Trump told reporters at the White House, “I know nothing about WikiLeaks.”

“It’s not my thing,” he added, according to an April 14 report by NBC News.

And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was quick to come to his defense. “Look, clearly the president was making a joke during the 2016 campaign,” Sanders told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace about Trump’s past praise for WikiLeaks.

Sanders spoke about Trump’s WikiLeaks remarks after the Department of Justice charged the website’s fugitive founder Julian Assange with computer hacking following his arrest in London, partly in connection with a U.S. extradition warrant.

The Department of Justice indicted Assange on a charge of conspiring with former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to hack a classified government computer. Manning provided WikiLeaks with a trove of secret government documents that the website published in 2010.

In his own defense, NBC News reports, Assange has insisted that the United States is trying to infringe on journalistic freedom.

Assange and WIkiLeaks were at the forefront of leaking stolen emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, including from 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Try Good Housekeeping’s 30-day mental health challenge!

April 15, 2019

You’ve heard of ice-water challenges, dietary challenges, and social media challenges—but the most popular competition right now is all about your mind and stress. Searches for 30-day mental health challenges have increased by by 668% over the past year, Pinterest recently revealed.

Do these mini, month-long resets actually work? They can, but you have to approach them the right way, Helen L. Coons,  clinical director of the Women’s Behavioral Health and Wellness Service Line at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, recently told Good Housekeeping magazine.

“We know that small, realistic, and attainable steps help us sustain good health behavior,” she said. “So if we think that we’re going to lose 50 pounds this week, we tend not to do it, but if we think … ‘I’m going to skip the cookie today,’ that’s a good start. Same thing in mental health.”

The magazine’s editors teamed up with Dr. Coons to create a 30-day mental health challenge that aims to help you leave you feeling calmer and happier at the end of the month. Even better: You don’t need to spend a lot of money or have tons of free time to participate.

Before starting the challenge, GH recommends that participants position themselves for the best results by following four core guidelines:

  • Don’t think it’s selfish: “When we’ve taken good care of ourselves, not only do we have more energy for others, but we tend to be more focused and more present,” Dr. Coons advises.
  • Tap a friend:When we share our goals, we do better. Get a group of two, three, or four friends, for added accountability.
  • If you miss a day, don’t give up:The goal isn’t to be perfect. Even if you just do 25 or 15 days, that’s still an improvement from the previous month.
  • Keep it up afterward:Improving your well-being is an ongoing process, so adopt one or two new habits that changed your mood for the better.

Now, take a look at the activities below—one for each day of the next month, no matter when you start.

The upcoming month is all about focusing on self-care and finding ways to make physical and mental health a bigger part of your life, which may sound like a lot but in practice is pretty simple. The editors have designated one easy task per day, so that participants won’t feel too overwhelmed.

1. Do a deep breathing exercise: Count backwards from ten, breathing low and slow. Try it before a meeting, in the car, or before you greet your kids or partner after a long day.

2. Catch up with a good friend: Having a strong social support system is linked with a reduced risk of depression and high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

3. Schedule something to look forward to: Plan a fun day later this month, whether you sign up for a cooking class, plan a mother-daughter movie marathon, or use the weekend to go on a mini road trip.

4. Donate or recycle something you never use: Visit givebackbox.com to download a free USPS shipping label, pack up your donations in an empty Amazon box, and it will go directly to Goodwill.

5. Do 30 minutes of yoga: Women who took twice-weekly yoga classes experienced a bigger decrease in chronic stress compared to a control group put on a wait-list, found a 2016 study published in the journal Cogent Psychology.

6. Plan a healthy meal: It’s no secret if you eat well, you feel well.

7. Ask for help with something: Tap into that support system for some assistance where you feel spread thin. After all, it takes a village.

8. Listen to your favorite happy music: In the car, in your home, in the shower…. Bonus points if you sing along.

9. Take 10 minutes to read: Either good stuff or junk! 

10. Go for a walk at lunch: Walking for 30 minutes in a natural or urban environment is linked with reducing stress hormone levels and improving mood, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

11. Budget 20 minutes of spa time: Whether it’s a manicure or a blowout, do whatever makes you feel good. “Not because of the superficial nature of it,” says Dr. Coons, “but when we tend to feel good about how we look, that also helps our well-being.”

12. Practice a favorite hobby: Coloring, doodling, and drawing all increase blood flow to the reward circuit in the brain, according to a 2017 study out of George Washington University, but do whatever creative activity brings you joy—knitting, jewelry making, you name it.

13. Let yourself get distracted by a movie: Go out or queue something up at home.

14. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier: Getting enough sleep can improve your mood, memory, and immune system, according to the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine.

\15. Drink water instead of alcohol or soda today: You’ll save money and avoid empty calories. Win-win.

16. Schedule a game night: Enjoy some friendly competition around a game board.

17. Set a mini goal: Make sure you eat breakfast every day this week, or find a friend sign up for a 5K with you.

18. Cross a lingering item off your to-do list: You know that doctor’s appointment you’ve been meaning to make for months?

19. Compliment someone: Put a little good karma into the world.

20. Plan a night in with friends: Gossip, laugh, eat, drink.

21. Try a 5-minute meditation: Download a free mindfulness app like Headspace and you can do it anywhere when you have a spare moment.

22. FaceTime with a family member: Just seeing Grandma happy will probably make you happy.

23. Do something outside: Walk the dog or find an empty bench to soak up some sun. Or look at the moon and stars before bedtime.

24. Book a date night with your partner: If you’re single, no problem. Call up a friend who appreciates you and plan something fun instead.

25. Unfollow negative people on social media: Those influencer accounts who make you feel any bit less-than? See ya, won’t miss ya.

26. Say no to something: Take a task off your calendar or move it to a more convenient or less stressful time.

27. Have a phone-free night at home: The blue light emitted by your screen can mess your with sleep hormones, so putting the tech away early will not only let you catch up on a new book, but also help you fall asleep faster.

28. Watch a silly video that makes you laugh: Remember, it’s the best medicine.

29. Write down something good that happened today: Even if you’ve just had the worst day, jot down what you’re grateful for instead.

30. Adopt a new habit: Reflect back on the past 30 days and think about making a change. Should game night become a weekly occurrence? Did going to a walk at lunch make feel that much ready to take on the rest of day? The month may be over, but you can make your favorite activities a regular, lifelong thing.

Research contact: @goodhousemag