Smoking, obesity, addictions: carefully, it is infectious!
Will power - why so often are not enough it for us? Why it is so difficult to fight against addictions? It appears, the behavior of the person is literally infectious for others - for this reason distribution of smoking and obesity sometimes so probably on epidemic.
Distribution of epidemic
the Centers of control and prevention of diseases are known to
that they study flashes of epidemics like swine flu and HIV. But they monitor also long-term changes of indicators of health, for example, obesity statistics. In 1990 in one state of the USA the coefficient of obesity did not exceed 15 percent. By 1999 in 18 states it made from 20 to 24 percent, however the threshold in 25 percent was not passed anywhere. By 2009 only in one state (Colorado) and in the District of Columbia the coefficient of obesity stuck to lower than 20 percent, and in 33 states it reached 25 percent and above.
Two scientists, Nicholas Kristakis from medical faculty of Harvard university and James Fowler from the Californian university in San - Diego, asked a question: whether obesity from the person to the person the same as infectious diseases like flu is transmitted? Scientists addressed data of large-scale population research warmly - vascular health which was carried out by National institute of heart among 12 000 residents of Fremingem in the State of Massachusetts. It began in 1948 with 5200 participants, and in 1971 and 2002 new generations were added. For several decades citizens told doctors intimate details of the life, from changes in weight and before social communications with other participants of research.Kristakis and Fowler studied
how the weight of people over the years changed, and agreed that it is similar to epidemic. Obesity was infectious, it was transmitted to relatives and friends. If at the person the friend, risk that he will begin to suffer from obesity grew stout, soared up for 71 percent. If at the woman the sister gained weight, her chances to grow fat increased by 67 percent and if at the man the brother got fat, for it the probability to recover grew by 45 percent.
But not only obesity wandered about Fremingem. If one person was fond of binge, all his friends began to hang more often in bars. Scientists noticed that self-checking was infectious too. If someone refused smoking, the probability that his friends and relatives will tie too grew. It were disturbing, but obvious conclusions: both addictions, and changes to the best are transferred from the person to the person as microbes and anybody has no absolute immunity.
- Many of your social environment are your “companions in misfortune“? Remember
- whether you picked up a habit from the friend or the relative?
- people in the company of whom you are especially inclined to indulge yourself Are? whether
- people from your environment tried recently to throw down a challenge to the same strong-willed test, as you?
People are programmed to communicate with each other, and our brain cunning adapted to it. We have special neurons - they are called mirror, their only task - to trace that think, other people feel and do. These mirror neurons are disseminated through all brain that we as it is possible better understood experiences of people around.
For example, imagine that we sit in kitchen, and suddenly you see how I the right hand try to keep step with a knife. Your brain automatically will begin to distinguish this gesture. It allows you to guess from what suddenly I stretched to a knife and that will be farther. I am going to attack you? Or my alleged victim - carrot pie?we Will tell
, I incidentally cut a thumb of the right hand, having grasped a knife. Oh! When you see it, mirror neurons in the painful centers of your brain respond. You shudder and instantly understand that I feel. This instinct of empathy helps us to understand feelings of other people and to answer them.
When I will bandage a finger and I will put to myself on a plate a piece of pie, mirror neurons will be excited in your system of a reinforcement. Even if you do not love carrot pie, but know that it is adored by me (indeed), your brain will begin to anticipate an award. When our mirror neurons read out the promise of an award at other people, we want to regale too.
of Reflection of strong-willed failures
In this simple scenario we observed three ways which our “social“ brain can pick up weak will. The first - involuntary imitation. Visual neurons which distinguish the movements of other person train in them your body. When you see how I try to keep step with a knife, you can notice suddenly that you mechanically “help“ me. In other cases we involuntarily repeat actions of people around. The man crosses hands, and moments later his partner on conversation repeats gesture. This unconscious physical reflection helps people to understand better each other, and also gives rise to feeling of a unification and harmony (therefore sellers, managers and politicians poses of other people learn to copy intentionally: the person who is imitated more we inspire).our instinct of imitation leads
to the fact that when you see how someone gets food, drink or a credit card, you begin “to zerkalit“ unconsciously this behavior - and lose the will. For example, in recent research it was checked that occurs in a brain of smokers when they see smoking of the character of the movie. They made active brain zones which plan the movements of a hand as though people were going to get a cigarette and to light it: there was an unconscious impulse to light which had to be constrained.
the Second way of our “social“ brain to confuse us - emotional infection. We were convinced that mirror neurons answer pain of other people, but they respond also to feelings. Therefore the bad mood of the colleague can become also yours - and will seem as if you should drink it!
I, at last, our brain can give in to a temptation when people around are tempted. When we only imagine to ourselves that is wished by other people, we adopt their desires, and their appetite stimulates our appetite. Therefore in the company we eat more, than alone, players raise the stakes when someone hits a jackpot, and we spend more when we go shopping with friends.When the purposes are infectious
People there are born mediums. When we observe others in operation, our “social“ brain guesses their purposes. However automatic reading of thoughts has also a side effect for self-checking: in us the same purposes are activated. Psychologists call it infection with the purpose.
of Research is shown that it is amazingly easy to pick up the purpose of other person - and to change the behavior. For example, in one experiment students picked up the purpose of receiving profit, having just read a story about other student who earned additionally on spring vacation. Children tried more and quicker won money in a laboratory task. Young men, having read a story about the man who zakadrit the woman in the bar, picked up idea of casual acquaintances and to greater hunting helped the attractive girl who looked to the room where there took place experiment.
As all this influences your self-checking? Good news is that it is possible to catch only those purposes which you somewhat divide. To you not to pick up absolutely new intention at short-term contact as if a flu virus. Non-smoking will not pull on nicotine if the friend gets a sigarette. But the behavior of other person can activate the purpose which did not operate your decisions at the moment. You want both to regale now and to keep health on the future and to splash out the anger on the chief and not to lose work and to pokutit and to get out of debts. At the sight of the person who pursues one of these purposes your reason can be inclined in its advantage too.Infection with the purpose works with
in both directions: it is possible to pick up both self-checking, and overindulgence, but we are especially susceptible to temptations. If the friend orders at dinner the dessert, her purpose to take momentary pleasure can unite with your thirst for pleasures, and together they will muffle your intention to lose weight. When you see that somebody is spent for gifts by holidays, your desire to admire children amplifies in the Christmas morning, and you for a while forget about plans to squander less.
a disobedience Holiday
Sometimes we catch
not the situational purposes: to have a bite, be spent, to tempt the stranger, - and more general, for example to follow rushes. Scientists from University of Groningen in the Netherlands proved it in several experiments from nothing the suspecting passersby. They threw “proofs“ that other people behaved badly: fastened bicycles opposite to the plate on a fence “Bicycles not to put“, left carts for products on the parking where the system of return of carts to shop worked. These researches confirmed that the violation of the rules is infectious. People who encountered “setups“ followed the bad examples and ignored instructions. They fastened bicycles opposite to a sign too and threw carts on the parking.
But consequences were not limited to it. When people saw the bicycle fastened in not put place, they climbed over a fence more often to cut off a way though it was forbidden. When they saw carts on the parking, littered more often. The infection was more severe and concerned not only the concrete rule. People picked up the purpose to do that there is a wish and not that has to.
When we notice that others neglect norms and follow rushes, we are more inclined to give in to any impulses. That is every time as we catch bad behavior, our own self-checking decreases. Having heard that someone hides the income, you are more free will approach the diet. Having seen as drivers exceed speed, you are inspired to spend superfluous. So we can cling weaknesses from others - even if our personal weaknesses differ from observable.
From the book “Will power. How to develop and strengthen“