ABC ‘Reseach Report’ March, 2013

1) Surgeons who play video games are better at ‘keyhole’ procedures

University of Rome.

Laparopscopic surgeons may improve certain aspects of surgical performance by regularly playing on a Nintendo Wii, according to research published in PLOS ONE.

Researchers analyzed how a four-week training regimen on the Wii impacted the laparoscopic skills of post-graduate residents in the first or second year of their surgical training.

Half the surgeons were assigned to a training regimen on the Wii while the other half were not. Before and after the regimen, all the participants’ performance was tested on a laparoscopic simulator. The study found that participants in both groups improved their skills over the four week period, but those who had been trained on the Wii showed a significant improvement over the other group in their performance on several specific metrics like economy of instrument movements and efficient cautery.

[Note: this study didn’t recieve any funding from Nintendo or other video game developers.]

2) Australians didn’t gamble away last year’s carbon tax compensation payments, viewing them as different from past payments
University of Melbourne (Melbourne Institute) 

Australians opted not to gamble away last year’s carbon tax compensation as they had earlier government payments, according to a University of Melbourne study.

Researchers explored whether the 2012 carbon tax cheques sparked an increase in expenditure at the pokies, as had occurred following the economic stimulus payments of 2008 and 2009.

The study found many recipients were more restrained in 2012.

“The Carbon Tax cheques arrived when people were expecting a hike in their power bills. They were portrayed as a rebate on rising costs of living due to a ‘big, new tax’,” said researcher Hielke Buddelmeyer.

“In contrast, the payments made during the Global Financial Crisis were seen as a windfall. Something to be spent, guilt free.”

3) Conservates are happier than progressives: study
University of Queensland

Conservatives are happier than liberals because of their strong ties to a large network of social groups, according to new research.

A research team from UQ Psychology conducted a study among 816 undergraduate students to explore the link between conservatism and happiness.

UQ Psychology Professor Jolanda Jetten said the findings indicated that conservatives were happier than liberals due to greater access to social capital – a great source of well-being.

It appears what makes conservatives happy is not conservative ideology but rather a “social and material advantage” – that is, access to groups, participation, membership, etc.

So maybe money can make you happier?

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