behavior · community · happiness · hugs · play · Social

McDonald’s will be accepting hugs, calls to mom, and dance moves as payment

OK, so YES it is being sponsored by a huge megacorporation. YES it is a total gimmick. But it is such a COOL gimmick.

“That will be five hugs, please.”

Randomly selected McDonald’s customers will have the opportunity to pay for their meals with various tasks — such as doing a dance or calling their mom — between Feb. 2 and Feb. 14. The deal is outlined in a Super Bowl ad from the company, above, which will air on Sunday but is already posted on its YouTube page.

So, for example, breakfast might cost a fist bump to a McDonald’s crew member; lunch could be paid for with a call to a loved one; and dinner could go for a hug to a family member. But there will only be 100 winners at each store.

more via McDonald’s will be accepting hugs and dance moves as payment. (Mashable)

Last week I also posted about a major paint company that promoted their paint via enabling the handicapped in China to blow up paint balloons onto a canvas.

While to some it may feel “icky” to have mega-sized companies counting this kind of self-congratulating promotion as “spreading the love” or even “charity work,” frankly I am just happy that anyone, either an individual or a giant corporation, is taking steps to making their spaces a little bit happier and more enriching. Companies spend millions of dollars to make their customers happy, so why not spend a little bit of that on a smile?

When has a corporation made your day better, either through a promotion or just because an employee took some time to acknowledge you? Leave it in the comments below.

anthropology · behavior · community · happiness · hugs · psychology · Social

For those days you really need a hug

Ever have a day when you just really need a hug, like, right now? Well now you’re in luck:

"Jeff Lam and Lauren Perlow created The Nicest Place on the Internet, a place where you can feel warm and fuzzy with virtual hugs, because they were having an off day. It’s perfect for those chilly winter days."

Check out Creativity Online.

You can also go directly to the site: The Nicest Place on the Internet

You can also contribute your own hug.

I love this idea of virtual kindness; it’s a weird concept in a way, of people donating hugs (so to speak) to complete strangers. But, it’s great because it’s using the World Wide Web to create community and connections with people all over the world. Somehow, by being open to receiving a hug, even a virtual one, we are able to create connections and feel like part of a larger tribe or cohesion.

So often online communities can turn harsh or downright mean; it’s great to see online crowdsourcing being used for positive psychological benefits!


The Free Hugs Campaign in Helsinki, Finland : Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

From earlier this year, but good advice for this upcoming dark and wet winter:

A group of Helsinki residents started a free hugs campaign to cheer people up. A group calling themselves, “FreeHugs Finland” had been promoting for this day on the internet and over 30 huggers showed up! During a couple of hours over 1000 people in Helsinki got a hug and one woman told me it saved her day!

via The Free Hugs Campaign in Helsinki, Finland : Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted).

Check out the Free Hugs Finland Blog. Seattle’s got a reputation for being not the most outgoing place, but so do Fins! If a group of Finnish people can do it, maybe we can too?


An explosion of Neanderthals

A lot of research on Neanderthals has popped up lately.
A reconstruction of fetal and infant Neanderthals (picture of the natal Neanderthal here) finds that Neanderthals developed at either the same rate as us or even more slowly, increasing in size quickly as infants but possibly not reaching sexual maturity until later than modern humans. According to one quote, if humans were able to reproduce 1% more often than Neanderthals, we could effectively outbreed them in a (relatively) short matter of time.
And just in case you’re certain your father-in-law must have some Neanderthal lineage, one study of mitochondria DNA from Neanderthals has found that there is no mixing of Neanderthals and modern humans.
Speaking of distant relatives, a group found that chimps could tell when their friends needed hugs, and in doing so lowered their friend’s stress levels. While this behavior has been shown before, the researchers are saying this is the first time they could show that chimps recognized their friends’ stress and were empathetic to help.
Also, anthropologists on an island near the homo floresiensis site found bones dating from the same time that were normal human size. Does this mean that the Hobbit was a deformed freak? Who knows.