Mental Recess News

Need a break? Check out our selection of entertaining science news stories.

50 Shades of Risk

Women who read Fifty Shades of Grey may be more likely to engage in risky health behaviors, including eating disorders and abusive relationships, new research suggests.

The results of the study, published online August 21, 2014, in the Journal of Women’s Health, indicated that women aged 18 to 24 years who read at least the first novel of the series were significantly more likely to have had a partner who shouted or swore at them and who delivered unwanted text messages or calls, compared with those who did not read the books.

In addition, women who read at least 1 of the books were more likely to report fasting and using diet aids than nonreaders. Those who read all 3 books were also more likely to report binge drinking within the past month and having 5 or more sexual partners throughout their lifetimes.

Although the study did not assess whether the women engaged in these behaviors before or after reading the trilogy, the authors suggested the association is still concerning.

“If women experienced adverse health behaviors first (e.g., disordered eating), reading Fifty Shades might reaffirm those experiences and potentially aggravate related trauma,” they wrote. “Likewise, if women read Fifty Shades before experiencing the health behaviors assessed in our study, it is possible that the book influenced the onset of these behaviors by creating an underlying context for the behaviors.”

Protective Polish

A group of students from North Carolina have developed a nail polish that detects date rape drugs.

The polish, called Undercover Colors, changes colors if it comes in contact with Rohypnol or GHB, allowing women to discreetly check if their cocktails have been laced with the dangerous chemicals.

The team of engineers and PhD students recently attended the K50 Startup Showcase and won the 2014 Lulu eGames with their prototype. Check out their Facebook page and support their cause here.

Nostalgia Loosens Purse Strings

If you find yourself feeling nostalgic, you may be more willing to spend money, new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests.

In a series of 6 experiments, participants who thought about past memories were more likely to buy a product and to donate money than those who thought about the future.

The Science of Pizza

A team of food science researchers from the Institute of Food Technologists studied which cheeses form the most aesthetically pleasing pizza.

The researchers found that several factors influence the bubbling and burning of cheese. Study author Bryony James, PhD, explains the study process and findings in this video.