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All You Need is Love

I was reading the latest issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and found a little blurb with the headline of “Love Can Actually Ease Pain.” I read the three sentence long paragraph, which stated that because the areas which register love and pain share a location in the brain, feelings of love can reduce feelings of pain. I immediately wanted more information on the topic. So I looked it up and found THIS article. It went much further in-depth on the subject and really dug into the science of the statement.

The article describes the experiment conducted by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine, which had participants do three different things while experiencing moderate to high thermal pain. The participants: 1. viewed a picture of their romantic partner 2. Viewed a picture of an “equally attractive and familiar acquaintance, and 3. Experienced a word distraction task that had already been proven to reduce pain. Although both the first and third tasks decreased feelings of pain, only viewing pictures of a romantic partner increased activity in reward processing regions of the brain. This experiment therefore proves that activating the neural reward systems can reduce the feeling of pain.

While I was reading Stanford University’s explanation of the experiment’s process, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that Cosmo summarized it in three sentences. This made me start thinking about all of the information that we are missing when reading certain pieces of information. I know that we can’t read in-depth explanations for everything, but I feel that we miss out on a lot of interesting and sometimes vital information because news media writers write to an audience that is assumed to have a short attention span.

As I have mentioned before, I wrote for my high school newspaper. We focused a lot on a writing strategy called “chunking,” which means that you should not have bodies of text longer than five sentences together. We even attended a workshop by Tim Harrower , a “media genius” according to my high school journalism teacher. Harrower described the extreme importance of visuals in newspapers. This is something that I’ve heard many times since that workshop, and I have now witnessed it in the November issue of Cosmo, which is filled with graphics and visuals and short little blurbs of text here and there.

I initially began to write this blog to share information on the interesting experiment which I discovered in a magazine, but after realizing how much actual information was left out of the magazine’s take on the story I felt I had to say something about that. So how do you feel about this interesting experiment? And how do you feel about how much real juicy information is excluded from the media when scientific discoveries are reported?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I read that article yesterday as well. They had women with their hands on hot objects and these women reported actually feeling significantly better when they were shown a picture of their significant other. They also had a segment about how your body falls in love faster than your brain, taking only one fifth of a second to release the chemicals that make you feel love struck. I never really thought about the scientific side of love or ever thought that there really was one.
    As for the idea that Cosmo leaves a lot out, I never really looked to Cosmo as my main science source, but more of a guilty pleasure. I do not hold them to the same standards as even Popular Science in their reporting, I mean Nicki Minaj is on the cover this month with the words “Guys’ Top Sex Secrets” plastered across it, did I expect it to be in depth about chemistry? It has the introduction to the experiment, but not the details so we can look up the details if we want. If it was a more reputable science publication I would be more disappointed in the lack of information.

  2. October 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Hmm.. a wise man once told me, when looking for dating advice, read Cosmopolitan, and do the opposite of whatever it tells you to do LOL

    So my opinion will probably be always skewed against Cosmopolitan whether or not I like it.

  3. October 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    That is a good point, I don’t read Cosmo to learn about science either but it just made me think about the fact that we’re constantly missing out on information, from lots of different sources. I’ve taken journalism classes in high school and now I’m in a media class here and it’s true for many sources of information- it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find “hard news.” Reading Cosmo really was a jumping off point for me to think about that.

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