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Joy

Feel-good study shows Americans are more likely to help a stranger now than in the '50s

The reasons probably aren't what you think.

americans help strangers, is america getting better, america is great
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A man helps a man in a walker exit a car.

These days, when someone does a good deed it’s common for people to react by saying, “It’s great to see there are still some good people in this world.” The implicit message is that Americans used to be more helpful to one another but at some point in history things changed and we stopped looking out for our neighbors.

It’s easy to think that way given the media’s negativity bias and all the talk about living in a “divided country” where we are pitted against one another because of race, sexual orientation, political views, economic status, region and religion.

However, a new study published in American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin has found that Americans are more likely to help a stranger now than they were in the 1950s.


"Many people believe U.S. society is becoming less socially connected, less trusting and less committed to the common good," Yu Kou, the lead author of the study and a professor of social psychology at Beijing Normal University, said in a press release.

The researchers analyzed 511 studies conducted between 1956 and 2017 that featured more than 63,000 participants. The meta-analysis found a gradual increase in cooperation among strangers of 19.81% across the 61 years.

“One intriguing implication of these findings is that while Americans’ cooperation has increased over time, their beliefs about others’ willingness to cooperate has actually declined,” the journal article states.

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The notion that Americans are more cooperative with one another in 2022 than they were in the 1950s may come as a shock to those who relish the idea that America was at its greatest when the country was more homogeneous and rural.

The reason we’ve become more cooperative with one another will also bother those who feel the country has become more callous because of an increase in individualism. The study points out that an increase in individualism and urbanization may be the biggest reason that we’ve become nicer.

The study notes that “individualists are more likely to interact with strangers” and have a “greater generalized trust in others.” It also cites prior research that “has already found that individualists, compared to collectivists, are more likely to cooperate when interacting with strangers.”

States with a greater number of individualists also “tend to have higher levels of general trust, more donations to charity, and more time spent on volunteering for the community.”

The study provides a much-needed counternarrative to the popular notion that America is on an irreversible moral decline and that we lack the cohesiveness to solve the country's most important issues.

"If this optimism has some realism, then we are in a much better position to tackle national and global challenges that take the form of public goods, such as the management of refugees, responses to a pandemic, reducing climate change, and the conservation of resources,” according to the journal article.

The findings are a great example of why we should all be more skeptical about the narratives that those in power use to try and shape our collective reality. But more importantly, it gives us another reason to celebrate and promote America’s original promise that the more diverse the country becomes and the freer we feel to pursue our own individuality, the greater things can be for everyone.

I bet that if we started telling Americans the real story about our country we'd do a much better job at setting differences aside and fixing our most pressing problems.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

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Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

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Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

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The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

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Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

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