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Voice mail greetings: chipper, brusque, or designer?

My voice mail greeting used to be the litmus test of my emotional stability. If I happened to be going through an especially schizoid period, the girl on the machine (um, me; see, i'm veering dissociative already) would either solicit callers warmly to leave important data and sweet nothings, or bark her number and something monosyllabic in closing.

And when other people I know change their voice mail greetings, I always think: something's wrong. They're angry. Lonely. Broke. Hunted. Or maybe they've been chastised by someone close to their hearts or paychecks. But if the greeting isn't linked to an actual human voice, then I don't take it as hard. It then seems less personal and more whimsical, like changing the wallpaper on your myspace. And for people who do like to thusly outsource their greetings, there are countless options.

If you're a PETA supporter, you can have the guitarist for Good Charlotte intone a voice mail greeting for you. If you're concerned a percentage of your callers aren't registered to vote, Mary J. Blige will remind them during the time you dash to either answer or silence your ringer. YouMail has a ton, including a whole category devoted to "Fake Errors"--for the poor dears among us who actually are being stalked? Or who are just malicious--I shutter at the "Earthquake" one (but thought the "this call requires a 25¢ deposit" was cute).

I might even prefer getting any of these over the one I can't stand the most: the "fake-out" greeting, in which the person actually records himself answering the phone and starting a conversation, responding to you, etc., then laughs and breaks the news that, sucka, leave a message after the beep.

Are there greetings out there that make you want to jump through the phone?

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What Pop Culture Gets Wrong About Dissociative Identity Disorder
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From the characters in Fight Club to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, popular culture is filled with "split" personalities. These dramatic figures might be entertaining, but they're rarely (if ever) scientifically accurate, SciShow Psych's Hank Green explains in the channel's latest video. Most representations contribute to a collective misunderstanding of dissociative identity disorder, or DID, which was once known as multiple personality disorder.

Experts often disagree about DID's diagnostic criteria, what causes it, and in some cases, whether it exists at all. Many, however, agree that people with DID don't have multiple figures living inside their heads, all clamoring to take over their body at a moment's notice. Those with DID do have fragmented personalities, which can cause lapses of memory, psychological distress, and impaired daily function, among other side effects.

Learn more about DID (and what the media gets wrong about mental illness) by watching the video below.

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Humblebraggarts Are the Worst (Science Says So)
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Humblebraggarts. We all know (at least) one: that person who takes a woe-is-me tack to ostensibly "complain" about something when the real intent is to boast.

"It's noon, I haven't had a cup of coffee, and the espresso machine at this Mercedes dealer is broken. FML!"

"Have been sitting on the runway for 30 minutes. Next time I'm flying commercial instead of private."

In many ways, it's another version of #FirstWorldProblems, and social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have only made the practice more pervasive. As TIME reports, a new study has concluded that people see right through this fake humility—and like people less for doing it.

Researchers at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a series of nine experiments, including a week-long diary study and a field experiment, to both identify the ubiquity of the behavior and then determine its effectiveness as a form of self-presentation. Their findings, which were published in the January Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, determined that if you're going to brag, people would rather you just be transparent about it.

"It's such a common phenomenon," Ovul Sezer, study co-author and an assistant professor of organizational behavior at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, told TIME. "All of us know some people in our lives, whether in social media or in the workplace, who do this annoying thing. You think, as the humblebragger, that it's the best of both worlds, but what we show is that sincerity is actually the key ingredient."

Of the 646 participants, 70 percent of them could recall a recent humblebrag they'd heard—the majority of which (about 60 percent) were complaint-based. But the study showed, overwhelmingly, that any statements that could be perceived as humblebragging (whether complaint- or humility-based) "are less effective than straightforward bragging, as they reduce liking, perceived competence, compliance with requests, and financial generosity," according to the study's authors.

"Despite the belief that combining bragging with complaining or humility confers the benefits of each strategy," the study concluded, "we find that humblebragging confers the benefits of neither, instead backfiring because it is seen as insincere.”

In other words: they're not fooling anyone.

"If you want to announce something, go with the brag and at least own your self-promotion and reap the rewards of being sincere, rather than losing in all dimensions," Sezer said—though she suggested that an even more effective tactic is to find someone else to boast on your behalf. "If someone brags for you, that's the best thing that can happen to you, because then you don't seem like you're bragging," she told TIME.

However, Sezer's final piece of advice was not to be too hasty in your dismissal of humblebraggarts as a whole. "We all do it, to some extent," she said. "I hope I don't sound like I'm humblebragging when I talk about this research."

[h/t: TIME]

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