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Interactive video lesson plan for: 6 Bizarre Correlations | What the Stuff?!

Activity overview:

Many academic studies connect things that seemingly have no connection. Here are some of the weirdest…

Check out our article:
10 Studies Connecting Completely Bizarre Things

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*And now: Academic studies showing super weird correlations.

*Bladder control and thriftiness. Hold it… Hold it… A study from 2011 found that people who are “holding” a full bladder are better at delaying gratification and making long-term decisions about money. The researchers chalked it up to “inhibitory spillover” – if you’re in the process of resisting one urge, you’re better at controlling other urges as well. This must be a big help in places with pay-per-use toilets.

*Tipping and corruption. OK, what’s the one movie genre that goes out of its way to show conspicuous tipping? Mafia movies, right? A 2012 Harvard study found that around the world, countries with greater tipping behavior also have more problems with political corruption, like bribery. The authors guessed that this might be due to what’s called a “prospective orientation” – not so much tipping as a reward, but tipping to influence future behavior, like “One day, I may call upon you to perform a service for me…”

*Finger length and SAT scores. A 2007 study in the British Journal of Psychology turned up this bizarre fact: Boys with a higher ring-to-index finger ratio had higher SAT math scores. At the same time, girls with a lower ring-to-index finger ratio had higher verbal scores. The researchers said this might be because both factors – relative finger length and math-versus-verbal aptitude – are influenced by the amounts of testosterone and estrogen you received way back in your mother’s womb.

*The length of your commute and your level of political engagement. The longer you spend in traffic every day, the less likely you are to stay up-to-date on politics. Maybe it has something to do with having less leisure time or more stress. But it applies to everyone with one weird exception: The super-rich. For the “very wealthy,” the longer their commute, the _more_ they were engaged. Maybe commutes by private jet counted.

*Studying ethics and stealing books. OK, it’s a little more nuanced than that: A study published in 2009 found that modern texts on ethics and morality were 50 percent more likely to go missing from libraries than all other books. The investigator suggested ethics students may be more likely to rationalize their behavior.
*Hiccups and your rectum. Can’t get rid of the hiccups? In 1990, health care providers in Israel reported one really great remedy: a “digital rectal massage.” Supposedly this works because the nerves controlling hiccups, like the vagus nerve, are also connected to the GI tract.


*Got a favorite bizarre correlation discovered by science? Let us know in the comments, and subscribe so you won’t miss our next video! And as always, at you can learn more about this and lots of other bizarre stuff at HowStuffWorks.com.

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