11 More Obvious Things Confirmed by Science

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Maybe these scientists were waiting for an unexpected turn in the findings that never came, or maybe they really did need to know if sexy waitresses get better tips. But either way, here are 11 (more) times the results won't shock you.

1. Eating lots of bad food is bad for you.

If you were holding out hope that fried chicken was a staple of a well-balanced diet, science has some bad news for you. A study released last year in the American Journal of Medicine tracked the effect of eating habits on participants' health from middle-age on. The research involved assessing the diet of 5350 adults (age 51.3±5.3 years, 29.4 percent women) and then tracked their mortality, chronic diseases and overall health for a period of 16 years. The results:

[P]articipants with a “Western-type” diet (characterized by high intakes of fried and sweet food, processed food and red meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products) had lower odds of ideal aging.

I know, it's a shame.

2. People will buy more fruits and vegetables if they're cheaper.

Just because you've been swayed by the science in No. 1 to believe all that fried food is bad for you doesn't mean you're going to change your ways. However, one thing that is proven to encourage the purchase of more produce: discounts. A paper published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on a trial done in Dutch supermarkets in which participants were given 50 percent off produce coupons, nutrition education, both, or neither. The researchers found that people bought and consumed more fruits and vegetables if they were given the coupons, even more so than if they were educated on the benefits of a healthy diet. Of course, this is important information for crafting public health initiatives, but did they really need the study to know people prefer to spend less money?

3. Musicians get the girls.

Tales of rock stars and groupies provide more than enough anecdotal evidence to know this is true, but does the musician vibe really make a man more attractive if he's not in a world-famous band? Spoiler alert: yes. A French research team enlisted a young man (full disclosure: he was “previously evaluated as having a high level of physical attractiveness”) to stand on a street and request phone numbers from 300 different young ladies—all in the name of science, of course. For 100 such solicitations he was holding a guitar case; for another 100 he had a sports bag; and for the final 100, he was empty handed.

Results showed that holding a guitar case was associated with greater compliance to the request, thus suggesting that musical practice is associated with sexual selection.

But of course. No word on whether or not he followed up with any of the 31 percent of women who offered the apparent guitarist their digits.

4. We're all working for the weekends.

Next time someone accuses you of having a case of the Mondays, tell them that yes, in fact, you do, and it is a scientifically proven ailment. Or at least a widespread trend. A 2010 study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology set out to test the hypothesis "that both weekends and nonworking times would be associated with enhanced well-being." Unsurprisingly, "results supported these hypotheses." Makes sense to me. I mean, I love working for mental_floss, but I can concur that my Saturdays are still "associated with several indicators of well-being."

5. Stereotypically "sexy" waitresses get better tips.

One caveat: This whole study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, is based on self-reporting some rather personal details. But there's little cause to question findings that support such an obvious trend (not to mention Hooters' whole business model). Waitresses completed an online survey that included subjective assessments of their own attractiveness and sexiness as well as objective physical attributes like bust size, hair color, and tip amounts. I bet you can predict what happened, but in case you were wondering, yes:

the waitresses’ tips varied with age in a negative, quadratic relationship, increased with breast size, increased with having blond hair, and decreased with body size.

6. Men and women desire a sexually attractive partner.

Those young, blond, busty waitresses aren't just getting more tips. They're also getting—gasp!—more dates as well. And don't bother saying you're not shallow like that; your subconscious definitely is. A team of researchers subjected willing undergrads to a word-association assignment to test how much they associate physical attractiveness with an ideal partner. Regardless of how the same participants responded when asked directly about the importance of appearance in a mate, they were quick to report positive feelings when shown words related to "sexiness." "If a person tells me, for example, that she doesn't care about how attractive a guy is, our research suggests that her claim isn't worth all that much," study researcher Paul Eastwick, of Texas A&M University, said in a statement.

7. "Pre-gaming" before you hit the bar means more overall alcohol.

Imagine that: Drinks at home plus drinks at the bar equals more overall drinks. A study from Switzerland shows that the intent to defray the cost of alcohol out at the bar with a "pre-gaming" event doesn't really work. Instead, people still imbibe just as much while they're out on the town, which just gets added to their drinks from at home.

The study also found that those who pre-drank were more likely to suffer risky or unfavorable consequences of drinking, such as blackouts, hangovers, unplanned substance abuse or unprotected sex.

That's probably a result of the more overall drinks.

8. Men are more attracted to their female friends than vice versa.

Maybe "obvious" is a little harsh here. I have plenty of platonic male friends and if they're pining after me, they are certainly not obvious about it. But "predictable in a large sample set"? For sure. In the first part of a study reported in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers recruited 88 pairs of opposite-sex college-age friends to fill out strictly confidential questionnaires about their friendship. What they found was men were more likely to report an attraction to their female friends than the other way around. When the study was expanded beyond college-age, both parties classified attraction to their friend as a "cost," and not a "benefit."

9. Magazines mostly feature young women. This can give older women bad body image.

Even when the audience skews over-50, the women featured in fashion magazines are almost exclusively sub-40. That's the predictable finding of a 2011 paper in the Journal of Aging Studies. And just like excessively thin models can have a harmful effect on the eating habits of young girls, these wrinkle-free faces in magazines like Vogue and Essence have middle-aged and older women feeling bad about their own visible signs of aging.

10. People are happier when their spouses are generous. Or If they're having lots of sex.

The results of a survey of more than 1400 heterosexual couples between the ages of 18 and 46—all of whom had children—published in 2011 as part of the National Marriage Project showed that higher levels of reported generosity coorespond to a happier marriage. That's right: People like getting backrubs, flowers and unsolicited acts of niceness, so much so it actually makes them happy. Of course, not as happy as regular sex might. While generosity is good, it was sexual satisfaction that proved to be the most consistent indicator of a happy marriage.

11. Restricting high-risk individuals from owning guns saves lives.

At least, it seems obvious. The links to the "report" mentioned don't seem to work, but you can see a PDF here.

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June 11, 2014 - 12:11am
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