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Having Kids Leads to More Fights With Your In-Laws, Study Finds

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Having kids might help you understand what your own parents went through in raising you and what your partner's parents went through in raising them. Still, it might not help you get along any better. A new study in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science reports that at least among Finns, having kids is associating with fighting more with your family, both your own and your in-laws.

In general, people tend to fight with their families. In a survey of 1200 people in Finland, both childless couples and ones with kids reported plenty of fighting with their own parents. But couples with kids were more likely to report fighting with their in-laws, too.

Other research has shown that people tend to be more altruistic when family ties are involved, a phenomenon called the “kinship premium.” But this study shows that it can go both ways. These researchers call it the “kinship penalty.” Yes, blood is thicker than water, but that doesn't mean people aren't prone to fighting with their family, as anyone who's been to a family holiday party can attest.

When a couple has kids, they create greater ties to their parents-in-law, who have suddenly become grandparents. This makes some intuitive sense—if you don't have kids, and you split up with your wife, your parents might never have a reason to see your wife again, but if you and your wife get a divorce after having kids, your parents might still interact with the mother of their grandchildren. But becoming closer to your partner's parents also can lead to tension and conflict.

The trope of the clash between women and their mothers-in-law isn't entirely a myth, the study finds, especially when Grandma is taking care of the kids. Daughters-in-law were more likely to report conflict with their mothers-in-law when the grandmother was providing childcare.

The study only tackled the topic of Finnish families, so it's possible that the results might look a bit different in another culture, especially since Finland has a notoriously generous government support system that makes being a parent there a vastly different experience than it is for people who live in countries without those policies. The effect might be even worse if you live in a place like Italy, where grandmothers remain one of the main sources of childcare compared to a place like Finland, where it's very rare for grandparents to be the dominant childcare providers.

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Animals
How a Pregnant Rhino Named Victoria Could Save an Entire Subspecies
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images

The last male northern white rhino died at a conservancy in Kenya earlier this year, prompting fears that the subspecies was finally done for after decades of heavy poaching. Scientists say there's still hope, though, and they're banking on a pregnant rhino named Victoria at the San Diego Zoo, according to the Associated Press.

Victoria is actually a southern white rhino, but the two subspecies are related. Only two northern white rhinos survive, but neither of the females in Kenya are able to reproduce. Victoria was successfully impregnated through artificial insemination, and if she successfully carries her calf to term in 16 to 18 months, scientists say she might be able to serve as a surrogate mother and propagate the northern white rhino species.

But how would that work if no male northern rhinos survive? As the AP explains, scientists are working to recreate northern white rhino embryos using genetic technology. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has the frozen cell lines of 12 different northern white rhinos, which can be transformed into stem cells—and ultimately, sperm and eggs. The sperm of the last northern white male rhino, Sudan, was also saved before he died.

Scientists have been monitoring six female southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo to see if any emerge as likely candidates for surrogacy. However, it's not easy to artificially inseminate a rhino, and there have been few successful births in the past. There's still a fighting chance, though, and scientists ultimately hope they'll be able to build up a herd of five to 15 northern white rhinos over the next few decades.

[h/t Time Magazine]

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entertainment
Why Our Brains Love Plot Twists
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From the father-son reveal in The Empire Strikes Back to the shocking realization at the end of The Sixth Sense, everyone loves a good plot twist. It's not the element of surprise that makes them so enjoyable, though. It's largely the set-up, according to cognitive scientist Vera Tobin.

Tobin, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University, writes for The Conversationthat one of the most enjoyable moments of a film or novel comes after the big reveal, when we get to go back and look at the clues we may have missed. "The most satisfying surprises get their power from giving us a fresh, better way of making sense of the material that came before," Tobin writes. "This is another opportunity for stories to turn the curse of knowledge to their advantage."

The curse of knowledge, Tobin explains, refers to a psychological effect in which knowledge affects our perception and "trips us up in a lot of ways." For instance, a puzzle always seems easier than it really is after we've learned how to solve it, and once we know which team won a baseball game, we tend to overestimate how likely that particular outcome was.

Good writers know this intuitively and use it to their advantage to craft narratives that will make audiences want to review key points of the story. The end of The Sixth Sense, for example, replays earlier scenes of the movie to clue viewers in to the fact that Bruce Willis's character has been dead the whole time—a fact which seems all too obvious in hindsight, thanks to the curse of knowledge.

This is also why writers often incorporate red herrings—or false clues—into their works. In light of this evidence, movie spoilers don't seem so terrible after all. According to one study, even when the plot twist is known in advance, viewers still experience suspense. Indeed, several studies have shown that spoilers can even enhance enjoyment because they improve "fluency," or a viewer's ability to process and understand the story.

Still, spoilers are pretty universally hated—the Russo brothers even distributed fake drafts of Avengers: Infinity War to prevent key plot points from being leaked—so it's probably best not to go shouting the end of this summer's big blockbuster before your friends have seen it.

[h/t The Conversation]

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