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Suggestible Sin Roundup

June 8, 2007

Mentioning a bad behavior may lead people to engage in it.


Does asking about vice lead to more? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
When preachers ask church members to think about the evils of vice, they may actually encourage more bad behavior than they prevent. In a recent study, scientists gave student volunteers questionaires. Half them asked whether or not the student was likely to engage in a particular negative activity in the coming week. The researchers found that students who were asked the question were significantly more likely to engage in the activity than those who hadn’t been asked.

In other research news, scientists at Brown University are studying a large group of patients who suffered heart attack symptoms after a stressful incident—a condition called Broken Heart Syndrome. Despite a lack of blocked arteries or other obvious causes, people have died of it. The team is hoping to figure out how a single event can have such dire consequences.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.