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Science Confirms That Summer Heat Makes Us Grumpy

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Feeling especially resentful toward your boss today? Before firing off that passive-aggressive email, get up and check the nearest thermostat. Scientists writing in the European Journal of Social Psychology say being in the heat makes people crankier, less cooperative, and less likely to help others.

Researchers Liuba Y. Belkin and Maryam Kouchaki, from Lehigh University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management respectively, conducted three experiments to test the effects of heat-related discomfort on human emotions and behavior.

For the first part, the researchers pulled data from a summer 2010 study conducted in Russian shopping malls. (Bear with us—this will make sense.) The original study had collected data from secret shoppers visiting a popular chain of handbag and luggage stores. As with any secret shoppers, the study participants’ job was to record and report their experience with the store and its staff. It would have been an ordinary gig—except that many of the stores were stiflingly hot. Moscow was experiencing a "mega-heatwave" that summer, and many malls lacked air conditioning.

Store employees really seemed to be feeling the heat. The data showed that they were 59 percent less likely that summer to ask customers if they needed help, make suggestions, volunteer assistance, or show signs of active listening. They just couldn’t be bothered. Interestingly, they weren't entirely slacking off; for instance, the stores were as clean as they always had been. The mall workers just had trouble with the human relations part of the job.

In the second experiment, the researchers recruited 160 participants to take an online trivia quiz. Before starting the quiz, half the participants were instructed to imagine themselves in an uncomfortably warm setting. Then they answered a few questions about their feelings, and then they took the quiz. After that, they were asked if they’d be willing to complete a short survey about their experience.

The trivia quiz was essentially a ruse; it was the post-quiz survey the researchers were after. More specifically, they wanted to see if anybody took the survey at all.

A lot of people did. But people who’d had to think about being hot were significantly less likely than others (44 percent versus 77 percent) to agree to do it. They also reported feeling more tired and less happy than everyone else.

The final experiment involved 73 of Belkin’s college students. She taught the same class on organizational management in two sessions—once in a stuffy room (80°F) and once in air conditioning. At the end of each session, each student was asked to complete a 100-question survey to support a nonprofit that helped underprivileged children.

You already know where this is going. Students in the hot room answered far fewer survey questions than those sitting comfortably in air conditioning (6 versus 35). Were they ditching the survey in order to could escape the room? It seems likely, Belkin told Quartz, "but whatever the reason, it affected their behavior."

"The point of our study is that ambient temperature affects individual states that shape emotional and behavioral reactions," she said, "so people help less in an uncomfortable environment, whatever the reason they come up with to justify why they cannot do" certain things.

Belkin says these findings carry over into the workplace, and warns employers to keep their employees, like zoo animals, at a safe and comfortable temperature. Sweat them long enough, she says, and they’ll quit. "We know that money matters," she said, "but only to a point."

[h/t Quartz]

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Stop Your Snoring and Track Your Sleep With a Wi-Fi Smart Pillow
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REM-Fit

Everyone could use a better night's rest. The CDC says that only 66 percent of American adults get as much sleep as they should, so if you're spending plenty of time in bed but mostly tossing and turning (or trying to block out your partner's snores), it may be time to smarten up your sleep accessories. As TechCrunch reports, the ZEEQ Smart Pillow improves your sleeping schedule in a multitude of ways, whether you're looking to quiet your snores or need a soothing lullaby to rock you to sleep.

After a successful Kickstarter in 2016, the product is now on sale and ready to get you snoozing. If you're a snorer, the pillow has a microphone designed to listen to the sound of your snores and softly vibrate so that you shift positions to a quieter pose. Accelerometers in the pillow let the sleep tracker know how much you're moving around at night, allowing it to record your sleep stages. Then, you can hook the pillow up to your Amazon Echo or Google Home so that you can have your favorite smart assistant read out the pillow's analysis of your sleep quality and snoring levels the next morning.

The pillow is also equipped with eight different wireless speakers that turn it into an extra-personal musical experience. You can listen to soothing music while you fall asleep, either connecting the pillow to your Spotify or Apple Music account on your phone via Bluetooth or using the built-in relaxation programs. You can even use it to listen to podcasts without disturbing your partner. You can set a timer to turn the music off after a certain period so you don't wake up in the middle of the night still listening to Serial.

And when it's time to wake up, the pillow will analyze your movements to wake you during your lightest sleep stage, again keeping the noise of an alarm from disturbing your partner.

The downside? Suddenly your pillow is just another device with a battery that needs to charge. And forget about using it in a place without Wi-Fi.

The ZEEQ Smart Pillow currently costs $200.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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Learn to Tie a Tie in Less Than 2 Minutes
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For most men—and Avril Lavigne-imitators—learning to tie a tie is an essential sartorial skill. Digg spotted this video showing how you can tie one the simple way, with a tabletop method that works just as well if you’re going to wear the tie yourself or if you're tying it together for someone else who doesn't share your skills.

The whole technique is definitely easier to master while watching the video below, but here's a short rundown: As laid out by the lifehack YouTube channel DaveHax, the method requires you to lay the tie out on a table, folded in half as if you're about to loop it around your neck.

With the back of the tie facing up, you loop over each end, then twist the thinner of the two loops around itself so it ends up looking like a mini-tie knot itself. You'll end up nestling the two loops together and snaking the thin tail of the tie through the whole thing. Then, essentially all you have to do is pull, and you can adjust the tie as you otherwise would to put it over your head.

Unfortunately, this won't teach you how to master the art of more complicated neckwear styles like the fancier Balthus knot or even a bow tie, but it's a pretty good start for those who have yet to figure out even the simplest tie fashions.

[h/t Digg]

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