The tendency to worry about stuff could be a sign of a certain kind of intelligence, according to a paper in an upcoming edition of the journal Personality and Individual Differences (hat tip to Christian Jarrett at the British Psychology Society's Research Digest for spotting it first). A team led by Alexander Penney of Ontario's Lakehead University gave 126 undergrads a litany of surveys and questionnaires designed to measure both their intelligence and how much they tended to stress about events in their lives. (For instance, they were asked how strongly they agreed with statements like, "I am always worried about something.") After analyzing the results, Penney and his team found a correlation between worrying and verbal intelligence.
Since 1969, “Sesame Street” has been introducing small children to letters and numbers by using clever skits and songs performed by Muppets and celebrities. Patrick Stewart, for instance, reworked Hamlet’s soliloquy as an ode to the letter B (“B or not a B, that is the question”). Now a report by two economists, Melissa Kearney of the University of Maryland and Phillip Levine of Wellesley College, has tracked the first generation of watchers (who were under six in 1969). It reveals that children who had access to “Sesame Street” ended up better prepared for school and were 14% less likely to fall behind in class.
The show’s effects are not unlike those of Head Start, a federal scheme that provides poor families with services that include school-based early education. But it costs a fraction as much, says Ms Kearney. “Sesame Street” is not a replacement for early education, which most studies agree is vital; but it is certainly a very affordable supplement. “In essence,” she says, thinking of massive open online courses, “Sesame Street was the first MOOC.”