Penn Study: Arts Improve Well-Being in Poorer Neighborhoods

A new study from Penn’s Social Impact of the Arts project found that cultural resources in lower-income neighborhoods are “significantly” linked to better schooling, health, and security.

“Going to a museum won’t cause you to lose weight or reduce your chances of being mugged, but communities with cultural resources do better,” Mark Stern, lead researcher of the project and professor of social welfare and history, said in a statement. “Our research clearly demonstrated that sections of the City are doing well on a number of dimensions of well-being, in spite of significant economic challenges.” Read more »

Penn Study: Mustaches More Common Than Women in Top Medical Leadership Posts

You probably could’ve guessed — if asked — that there are more men than women leading the nation’s top academic medical institutions in America. But would you have guessed there are more mustaches than women in the ranks?

There are, according to a study co-authored by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and published at The BMJ, a peer-reviewed medical journal.

“The lack of women in leadership roles in medicine is well-documented,” Dr. Mackenzie Wehner, a dermatology resident physician at Penn Medicine said in a statement. “But despite the eccentricities of the study, our results show that even when you focus solely on men with mustaches — which are rare — women are still outnumbered across various specialties.” Read more »

Drexel: Most Adults Are Sexting

Sexting isn’t just a teen fad, a new study from Drexel University has found. Eight in 10 adults have sexted in the last year, according to the study — and couples who sext report having higher satisfaction levels in their relationship.

In other words, sexting couples are happy couples. And there are a whole bunch more of them than you might have ever suspected.

“These findings,” the study’s authors wrote, “indicate a robust relationship between sexting and sexual satisfaction.” Read more »

Researchers Say Same-Sex Couples May Soon Be Able to Produce Biological Children Together

Well this is a game-changer if I ever heard one: Scientists say that same-sex couples may soon be able to produce biological children together.

Researchers at Cambridge University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science say they have discovered a way to “create human egg and sperm cells from the stem cells in the skin of two adults.” Which means, for instance, an egg can be created from the stem cells of two men, and sperm cells can be created from the stem cells of two women. Queerty has more:

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Too Much Eye Contact: Maybe This Is Why the Government Shut Down!

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

So yesterday John Boehner and President Obama sat down for a face-to-face chat, and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENED. Throughout the country, journalists lamented: How can this be? Isn’t a good old-fashioned tête-à-tête the best recipe for resolution in a standoff? Shouldn’t two reasonable men of wildly divergent opinions sitting eyeball to eyeball be able to work out a compromise?

Uh, no. The results of new research at Germany’s University of Freiburg show just the opposite, in startling contrast to the advice I’ve been giving my kids from the day they were born. (You know: Firm handshake, look the other person in the eye … ) Note to said kids: If you’re in search of compromise, look ’em in the mouth instead.

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The World’s First Transgender Bird?

We’ve heard of same-sex couplings in the animal kingdom, but not transgender birds. Researchers in New Zealand think they may have discovered the first one, however. Known as a bellbird, this little fine feathered friend (about the size of a sparrow) has the DNA of a female, but behaves like a male and exhibits a mix of each sex’s plumage and behavior.

Researchers told the Dominion Post News that the color balance could be due to a shock or incomplete molting process. The bird also tends to behave like males who move “deliberately” to defend food. It also sounds like both a male and female bellbird, with loud calls that are female-sounding, but in a loud pattern most closely associated with males.

The Maori name for the bird is “korimako,” though the researchers are calling this one a “butch bellbird.” It’s the first species that researchers have ever discovered showing a distinct gender mix.

“There’s something we can’t pin down,” conservationist Erin Jeneway told the paper. “We haven’t seen anything like this before.”

DADT: One Year Later

Photo by Think Stock

It’s been a year since President Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), making way for openly gay and lesbian servicemen and women to serve in the U.S. military. The first academic study has recently been released by the Palm Center, indicating that despite initial claims, there has been no negative impact on military readiness, recruitment or even morale. Co-authors of the study, whose publication coincides with the anniversary of DADT repeal, include professors at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Marine Corps War College.

“Even in those units that included openly LGB service members,” the report says, “and that consequently should have been the most likely to experience a drop in cohesion as a result of repeal, cohesion did not decline after the new policy of open service was put into place. In fact, greater openness and honesty resulting from repeal seem to have promoted increased understanding, respect and acceptance.”

Read more »

SURVEY: Sex is the Question

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) want to know even more about men who have sex with men. Whether you’re gay, bi or questioning, a new online survey has been launched – the largest of its kind – asking questions that will help researchers seeking new ways to fight HIV, AIDS and other STDs, and to better understand men’s sexual health.

It’s called Sex is the Question. It’s private. It only takes a few minutes to answer. And it even makes a donation to the It Gets Better campaign.

The survey also provides feedback. Once it’s completed, you’ll be able to compare answers with others, and you’ll even receive educational material to help inform you about sexual health – completely anonymously.

Gay and bisexual men account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. alone, according to the CDC.

What are you waiting for?

Click here to take the survey.

Gay? Straight? It’s All in the Eyes

Photo by Think Stock

Is it the way he walks? The way she talks? Probably not. But researchers at Cornell University are saying that one way to study sexual orientation is in the eyes. The study, published in Live Science, suggests that pupil dilation can indicate someone’s level of arousal depending on which gender they’re eyeing up.

The study finds that gay men who are attracted to other men experience a dilation of pupils when looking at erotic images of the same sex (while straight men responded to women and bisexuals responded to both). The same goes for women, though these results were a bit more complex as straight women in the study tended to dilate to images of both sexes even when they felt feelings of arousal for men.

“So if a man says he’s straight, his eyes are dilating towards women,” the lead researcher Ritch Savin-Williams tells Live Science. “And the opposite with gay men, their eyes are dilating to men.”

The researchers also believe this is an especially accurate testing method compared to monitoring someone’s, well, nether regions, as less people are willing to become subjects if it means having probes and other devices attached below the belt. But studying the eyes, says the researchers, opens up a whole new world to the very old question of whether “gaydar” even exists.

Have we just been looking in the wrong place for too long?

Black Guys Use Condoms More Than White Guys

Photo by Think Stock

We hear a lot about higher-than-average HIV infection rates among black males these days. But a new study by San Francisco State University finds that black men are actually using condoms more often than their white male peers. Here’s what the researchers have to say:

Black gay men, who face the highest risk of HIV infection, rarely discuss using protection, but tend to use it by default (it was “just understood”) regardless of either partner’s status. White couples, on the other hand, tended not to use condoms, often evaluating the risk of infection based on the health and viral load of the HIV-positive partner.

In cases where couples broke from their agreement and didn’t use protection, black couples tended to get tested and revert back to using condoms, while white couples persisted in not using them.

The study evaluated men in relationships – including black, white and interracial couples.

“Research has shown that some of the fastest growing HIV cases in the U.S. are among men in couple relationships and among black men. However, we studied black men with black partners and found that they are practicing safe sex,” says Colleen Hoff, professor of sexuality studies at SF State. “This suggests that being in a relationship isn’t a risk factor for black men. We need to keep searching for other factors that may explain the high incidence of HIV among this demographic.”

The findings, which were recently presented at the International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C., seem to buck plenty of closely held assumptions.

“We found that black and white gay men process the information they receive about HIV in different ways, and for black men using condoms is the default choice,” says SF State researcher Chad Campbell. “The black gay men we surveyed were aware of the high rates of HIV among their demographic and were taking steps to ensure they don’t become another statistic.”

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