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You Can Change Your Personality If You Want To, Science Says

If the self-help industry is to be believed, no one is perfectly content with their own personality—everyone wants to know how to win friends, become more charismatic, or learn to be assertive. It may not be as hard as you thought, though. Changing your personality may just be a matter of goal-setting, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Just as your personality changes over a lifetime—theoretically becoming more agreeable and conscientious as you mature—actively deciding to change some aspect of your personality can help you move in that direction. 

In two 16-week experiments conducted by psychologists Nathan Hudson and R. Chris Fraley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, participants focused on changing their personalities in at least one area of what psychologists call the Big Five personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability/neuroticism, and openness to experience. Out of 135 subjects drawn from an undergraduate psych class, some people were asked to create a plan to make the personality changes they desired—goals they were asked to re-evaluate each week. Participants in the control group merely evaluated their own personality traits. 

In respect to extraversion, having a stated goal did predict whether or not participants would report changes in their personality, though the effect was limited to the more narrow personality change they wanted to make. So participants who wanted to become more gregarious, for instance, moved toward that goal, but didn’t experiences changes in the broader category of extraversion (at least not in the short study period).

In a follow-up trial with 151 students, participants also provided ratings of their trait-relevant daily behavior, in addition to the goal-tracking used in the previous test. Again, those who thought of goals to change their personalities experienced greater changes in the direction of their goals. People who wanted to become more extraverted and agreeable reported more behaviors relevant to those personality changes on a daily basis, too. 

As the researchers write, “people who want to increase in extraversion may modify their thoughts, feelings, and behavior to be more extraverted—which in turn may calcify into lasting increases in trait-extraversion.” In other words, people will try to act like the extraverted person they want to be, thus in time becoming truly extraverted. Or, if setting goals to be more extraverted changed their identity in regards to their own extraversion, this would translate into more extraverted behavior. 

One caveat: The study solely evaluated personality changes via the participant’s own reports on their personality, and it’s possible that people might over-report their own progress, believing they have become much more conscientious than they really have, for instance. 

[h/t: reddit]

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Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site HowMuch.net created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and Cable.co.uk, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view HowMuch.net’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

[h/t Thrillist]

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Can You Figure Out Why the Turtles Bulge in This Optical Illusion?
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iStock

Ready for a little vision test? Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a Kyoto-based psychologist who studies visual illusions, created this eye-bending image that appears to bulge and bend. In the image, shared on Syfy.com, the horizontal and vertical lines actually run straight across and down, but they look like they ripple, and the shapes (Kitaoka calls them turtles) look like they’re different shades of gray, even though they’re an identical color.

As Phil Plait explains for Syfy, the key is in the corners—the turtle “legs,” if you will. “At each vertex between turtles, they form a rotated square divided into four smaller squares," he writes. "Note how they're offset from one another, giving a twist to the vertices.” If you zoom in closely on the image, the lines begin to straighten out.

The difference in the colors, meanwhile, is a result of the contrast between the black and white pixels outlining the turtles. If the outlines of the turtles were entirely black or entirely white, instead of a combination, the grays would look identical. But the contrast between the two fools your eyes into thinking they're different.

To see more of Kitaoka’s illusion art, you can follow him on Twitter @AkiyoshiKitaoka. Then, go check out these other amazing optical illusions.

[h/t Syfy]

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