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In Virtue/Vice, Dr. Christine B. Whelan blogs about news, books, scientific and psychological research and her general musings about virtue and vice in our everyday lives.

 

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January 19th, 2011

Good Results from Bad Habits?

 
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goodresultsbadhabits-flashIf you’re reading this in the midst of a stressful day at the office, here’s some good news: When you go home to do what I know you’ll probably do — drink, smoke, use drugs and binge eat — you are actually triggering a biological response in your body that helps prevent depression. Hello Oreos and Ativan.

According to an article published in a recent 2010 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, University of Michigan social scientist James S. Jackson and colleagues argue that

“People engage in bad habits for functional reasons, not because of weak character or ignorance,” says Jackson, director of the U-M Institute for Social Research.

But before you grab the K2 and cake, there’s a downside, and, like with so many downsides, there’s a race and class implication: Jackson and his colleagues use this argument to explain health differences in African American and white populations.

“Over the life course, coping strategies that are effective in ‘preserving’ the mental health of blacks may work in concert with social, economic and environmental inequalities to produce physical health disparities in middle age and later life.”

 
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The Author : Christine B. Whelan
Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She and her husband, Peter, and their dictator cats, Chairman Meow and Evita Purron, live in Pittsburgh. Her book "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" is available in stores or at the Halo Store.
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