Science Confirms That Summer Heat Makes Us Grumpy

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Feeling especially resentful toward your boss today? Before firing off that passive-aggressive email, get up and check the nearest thermostat. Scientists writing in the European Journal of Social Psychology say being in the heat makes people crankier, less cooperative, and less likely to help others.

Researchers Liuba Y. Belkin and Maryam Kouchaki, from Lehigh University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management respectively, conducted three experiments to test the effects of heat-related discomfort on human emotions and behavior.

For the first part, the researchers pulled data from a summer 2010 study conducted in Russian shopping malls. (Bear with us—this will make sense.) The original study had collected data from secret shoppers visiting a popular chain of handbag and luggage stores. As with any secret shoppers, the study participants’ job was to record and report their experience with the store and its staff. It would have been an ordinary gig—except that many of the stores were stiflingly hot. Moscow was experiencing a "mega-heatwave" that summer, and many malls lacked air conditioning.

Store employees really seemed to be feeling the heat. The data showed that they were 59 percent less likely that summer to ask customers if they needed help, make suggestions, volunteer assistance, or show signs of active listening. They just couldn’t be bothered. Interestingly, they weren't entirely slacking off; for instance, the stores were as clean as they always had been. The mall workers just had trouble with the human relations part of the job.

In the second experiment, the researchers recruited 160 participants to take an online trivia quiz. Before starting the quiz, half the participants were instructed to imagine themselves in an uncomfortably warm setting. Then they answered a few questions about their feelings, and then they took the quiz. After that, they were asked if they’d be willing to complete a short survey about their experience.

The trivia quiz was essentially a ruse; it was the post-quiz survey the researchers were after. More specifically, they wanted to see if anybody took the survey at all.

A lot of people did. But people who’d had to think about being hot were significantly less likely than others (44 percent versus 77 percent) to agree to do it. They also reported feeling more tired and less happy than everyone else.

The final experiment involved 73 of Belkin’s college students. She taught the same class on organizational management in two sessions—once in a stuffy room (80°F) and once in air conditioning. At the end of each session, each student was asked to complete a 100-question survey to support a nonprofit that helped underprivileged children.

You already know where this is going. Students in the hot room answered far fewer survey questions than those sitting comfortably in air conditioning (6 versus 35). Were they ditching the survey in order to could escape the room? It seems likely, Belkin told Quartz, "but whatever the reason, it affected their behavior."

"The point of our study is that ambient temperature affects individual states that shape emotional and behavioral reactions," she said, "so people help less in an uncomfortable environment, whatever the reason they come up with to justify why they cannot do" certain things.

Belkin says these findings carry over into the workplace, and warns employers to keep their employees, like zoo animals, at a safe and comfortable temperature. Sweat them long enough, she says, and they’ll quit. "We know that money matters," she said, "but only to a point."

[h/t Quartz]

9 Amazon Prime Perks You Might Be Missing Out On

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iStock.com/jahcottontail143

From diapers to camera equipment to jewelry, you can buy just about anything on Amazon and have it delivered to your doorstep in a matter of days—or in some cases, even hours. If you buy from the retailer often enough, its Prime service, which offers free two-day shipping, will save you far more than the $119 it costs to subscribe.

Your Prime membership offers a lot more than free shipping, though. To get even more out of Prime, don't forget to take full advantage of all its extra perks.

1. Photo Storage

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One of the most convenient perks of your Prime membership is unlimited photo storage on Amazon Drive. You can add photos from your phone or computer and access them from your devices. You also have the option to back up those photos automatically with the Amazon Photos app. This way, you can free up precious storage space on your phone. Amazon says it doesn't adjust or reduce the quality of your images, either.

In addition to unlimited photo storage, Prime members also get 5 GB of data storage for free, which is useful for saving videos and other files.

2. Grocery Delivery

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With Prime Pantry, you can skip the supermarket and have grocery staples delivered to your door. For a flat fee of $5.99, you can order all the kitchen, household, and pet care items you can fit in a box. Each time you add an order to your virtual Pantry box, Amazon will tell you how much room you have left. And if the order is over $35, Prime members get free delivery.

3. Music, Movies, and TV Shows

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Prime members also get access to Prime Video, where they can find a huge selection of free movies and TV shows, including its original programming. Similarly, Prime Music includes a massive collection of streaming music from top artists. The songs are ad-free and you can download them to your device in order to listen to them even when you’re not connected to data.

Prime also gives away free entertainment credits via its “no-rush shipping” option. Your Prime membership comes with free two-day shipping, but if you choose a later delivery date, you can score digital credits toward eBooks, music, videos, and apps.

4. Free Kindle eBooks

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If you're a Prime member with a Kindle e-reader or Fire tablet, you also have access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. It's like a digital public library that offers access to hundreds of thousands of books.

The catch is that you can only borrow one title a month, and the available titles change every month. However, there are no due dates, so if it takes you a few months to finish a book, you don't have to worry about late fees.

5. Steeper Discounts on Some Products

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If you have a young child or infant, you can score discounts on supplies with Amazon Family, which offers 20 percent off certain product subscriptions (like diapers and baby food) through Amazon Subscribe & Save. If you use Amazon Family to register for gifts, you also get a 15 percent completion discount on some items, which basically means you'll get a price cut on any items left on your registry.

Even if you’re not a parent, Amazon's Subscribe & Save option can help cut the cost of certain products. You get up to 15 percent off household items when you opt to receive at least five of those products periodically—you set the schedule, so you decide whether that new bag of dog food is delivered every week or month.

6. Early Access to Deals

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Amazon's Lightning Deals can be hit or miss, but if you have Prime, you can scope them out early. Amazon allows Prime members to check out what's on sale 30 minutes before anyone else, which can help you snag popular items that will sell out fast.

And on Amazon Prime Day, Prime members are privy to even more deals.

7. Two-Hour Delivery

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If you need something in a rush, Amazon will ship items from local stores, depending on your Zip code, with free two-hour delivery. This service is called Prime Now, and it is, of course, only available to Prime customers. It includes over 10,000 items, many of which are household staples like cleaning products, toiletries, and food. However, it also includes some electronics like video games, chargers, and computer accessories.

After acquiring Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon has added the grocery chain to its Prime Now service in select cities, too. They're testing Whole Foods delivery in a number of major metro areas before rolling it out nationwide.

8. Twitch Prime

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Twitch is a live video streaming service for gamers. And since Amazon purchased the company in 2014, you can now get Twitch Prime membership for free with Amazon Prime.

Each month, Twitch members get "free game loot," which includes access to a new game. You can also watch other gamers stream their videos ad-free, and you get one free channel subscription every 30 days. If you already have Amazon Prime, you simply need to link your account to Twitch Prime.

9. Amazon Elements

Amazon Elements Baby Wipes
Amazon

For the socially conscious shopper, Amazon launched Amazon Elements, a shopping portal that includes a line of "premium products."

With Amazon Elements, Amazon only partners with suppliers that meet its "high-quality and safety standards." For now, the selection of products on Elements is scarce. Categories are limited to vitamins and baby wipes. You can dig deeper into the sourcing of these products, though, and review the item's quality report as well as ingredient and product origins via the Amazon app.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

University of California and McMaster University Are Offering Their Learning How to Learn Course Online for Free

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Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you've ever stayed up late cramming information the night before an exam, it probably didn't go well. Or maybe you tried doing the right thing by spending days or even months studying a subject, only to realize you weren't retaining the information. These failed attempts may have you believe you're just not cut out for the subject matter, but that's not always true. In the course Learning How to Learn from Coursera, you can understand what it takes to truly understand new information, as well as the key strategies and habits you can employ to make it all stick.

Learning How to Learn is taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, a Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University, along with Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, who holds the Francis Crick Chair at the Salk Institute and is a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Throughout the weeks, they’ll teach you how to combat procrastination, how our brains process information, and the importance of breaking up new material into bite-sized chunks. You’ll also cover how taking breaks, getting sleep, and exercising are just as important as studying when it comes to learning something new.

According to Coursera, to finish the class in the typical four-week time, most students devote about three hours a week to the online videos, readings, quizzes, and coursework. There’s also no need to cram—which you’ll learn is not an effective learning tool—as this course is self-paced.

The course itself is free, but if you want a certificate of completion to share on your LinkedIn and resume, it will cost $49. Signing up for the certificate also gives you access to graded assignments, whereas the free version only allows you to read the course material.

You can also check out more free classes offered by Ivy League colleges by heading here.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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