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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsIQNewsEight Most Unexpected HSE Research Findings of the Year

Eight Most Unexpected HSE Research Findings of the Year

Food helps democracy and hormones affect financial behaviour.

Sometimes the researchers’ findings might seem unconventional. IQ.hse.ru publishes a compilation of the most unexpected results of the research carried out by HSE faculty or presented at HSE conferences in 2016.

Ageing can drive progress

Twenty years from now, the number of retired persons worldwide will have grown by 600 million, almost double the current number. Life expectancy will have increased, bringing new economic challenges. Yet the growing number of seniors can also stimulate important breakthroughs in medicine, biotechnology, nanotechnology, cognitive sciences and robotics, according to the report "Global Population Ageing and the Threat of Political Risks in the Light of Radical Technological Innovation in the Coming Decades."

Early birds complete Attention Network Tests quicker than the night owls

It has been known for a long time that early risers work less efficiently at night than night owls do. But researchers from the Higher School of Economics and Oxford University have uncovered new and distinctive features between the night activities of these two types of individuals. At night, early risers demonstrate a quicker reaction time when solving unusual attention-related tasks than night owls, but these early risers make more mistakes along the way.

Good nutrition can speed up the transition to democracy

Better nutrition can have a lot to do with the transition to democracy: the more protein-rich, high-quality foods appear in a society's diet, the higher the likelihood of democratic reforms. Apparently, a richer diet is associated with an increase in the middle class, which tends towards economic and political independence and democracy-fostering values.

Hormone levels influence demand for financial services

New findings by HSE  researchers indicate that prenatal testosterone exposure can influence an individual's financial behaviour, such as the use of bank cards, deposit accounts, loans and insurance.

Central Asians happier than Russians

In Central Asia, subjective wellbeing and life satisfaction tend to be higher than objective wellbeing, and people in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan appear to be more content than Russians about their material circumstances and life in general. According to HSE researchers, relatively low levels of economic inequality in Central Asian countries may be one of the reasons for this paradox.

Male brain consumes more energy than female one

It has long been known to science that women find it easier than men to switch between tasks. But how exactly their brains function differently in such situations has so far been unclear. Recent research reveals that male brains appear to consume more energy when they need to shift attention. In addition to this, in men there is greater activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal areas of the brain compared to women, as well as activation in some other areas which is not usually observed in women.

Freelancing leads to family conflicts

Freelancers’ sense of freedom, comfort, opportunities for self-realization, and flexible schedule are often accompanied by regular overwork, urgency and stress. In addition, their earnings are irregular, while their families often have trouble understanding the concept of working from home and don’t see such activities as a ‘real job’.

Private tutors do not help pass the Russian Unified State Exam

Shadow education for high school students, such as private tutors or preparatory courses, is often treated by families as a mega-project requiring substantial investments of money and effort. Such investments, however, rarely pay off for underachieving students who are often unaware of the quality of shadow education and thus may choose the wrong providers. A study by Andrey Zakharov, Deputy Head of the HSE Institute of Education’s International Laboratory for Education Policy Analysis, and Prashant Loyalka, leading research fellow of the same Institute, has debunked some of the more popular myths concerning the effect of shadow education.

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