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The overabundance of choice on the shelves is stressing us out

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The bread options at a Woolworths supermarket in Melbourne, Australia. Too many choices can trouble consumers. Photo: Jiali Fan

By Jiali Fan

Three in five Australians suffer from analysis paralysis when it comes to choosing products at supermarket and shops, new research reveals.

Comparison website Choosi’s research shows too much choice is making it harder to choose between similar options.

Rather than enjoying shopping, the research suggested, people paid more attention to whether they missed a “better” choice, making the decision-making process harder in a phenomenon called “analysis paralysis”.

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Coles Human Resource Manager Anthony Takyi said they had received some customer feedback saying there was confusion created by large choice of products.

“We are currently taking the brand issues into account and we are considering reducing the types of products. Only selected lines with high quality will be sellable,” Mr Takyi said.

“We need to make sure our products are presentable on shelf and serve our supporting consumers at the maximal level,” he said.

Monash University Associate Professor Dr Antonio Verdejo, from the School of Psychological Sciences, said the idea of choice is good as it offers freedom, self-determination and autonomy but too many roughly equivalent options induces stress, anxiety and even fear in customers.

“We often use heuristics and affective signals to expedite our decisions in an advantageous way and when we deal with multiple options and complex information the decision process slows down,” Dr Verdejo said.

“This kind of overstimulation can let consumers end up less satisfied with the result of the choice and even get sidetracked from their original goal.”

The study by Core Data Research found that 29 per cent of Australians have made a large purchasing decision they later regretted.

But Monash professor in cognitive neuroscience Jeroen Van Boxtel said in practice, people’s earlier experiences with shopping went some way to prevent this.

“If there are so many different options which are all different in many small ways…it is almost impossible to compare them analytically and people generally stick with the choice they have made a long time ago,” he said.

“In supermarkets, this long time ago may refer to when you grew up as a child, you got use to a certain brand of product and as an adult you just continue buying that one without thinking too much about it.”

The research also reveals while most Australians say modern conveniences make their lives easier, 87 per cent feel that an easier life does not necessarily equate to a better life.

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Skin Whitening Products’ Doubly Damaging, Warn Health Professionals

Vox Pop – Whitening Products

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(Whitening Products are being sold on a cosmetic store in Melbourne’s CBD. Photo: Jiali Fan)

By  Jiali Fan

Dangerous products including skin whitening, skin lightening, and skin bleaching are “widely used” within Asian and African communities in Australia, and should be more tightly regulated, a Melbourne skin cancer physician said.

Dr Jessica Maher from Australian Skin Cancer Clinics said such products use chemical substances in an attempt to lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion by reducing the melanin concentration in the skin.

“Most creams sold in the market are a dangerous cocktail of compounds and the long-term use of which can lead to lethal health concerns likes skin cancer, permanent pigmentation, liver damage and mercury poisoning,” she said.

“What I know is some girls start to use these products at a really young age, even their parents encourage them to use it.”

The use of whitening products can also cause psychological harm, according to the behavior scientist.

Dr Irina Elliott, unit leader for psychology at Monash College, said that low self-esteem and to some degree self-hate are a common theme for people who use these products.

According to reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, there are up to 59 per cent of women surveyed in African and Asian communities used skin lighteners.

“Many people of color lighten skin in order to fit within the larger society’s definition of beauty and even they associate it with success, prestige and envy,”Dr Elliott said.

She said that there is a wrong belief that light-complexioned people are more beautiful and acceptable, and over time people who are dark complexioned who have internalized this perception tend to lighten their skin to improve their sense of self-worth.

Jennifer Forson, the Secretary of the African Community and Cultural Association of Victoria, said many African Australian women and men use these products mostly due to the social pressures created by the media, celebrities and advertising.

The media images portraying white people as beautiful greatly influenced their decision to whiten their own skin, Ms Forson said, referring to the celebrity Emma Watson who was criticized for appearing in a Lancôme advertisement for a skin whitening product.

These products “do not always reflect the diverse beauty of all women”, Ms Watson said.

A report by the Australian Health Minister’s Advisory Council found, a large number of cosmetic products being offered by non-registered practitioners are being advertised through various social media platforms.

The report stated that such products are not on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) and that selling them through social media was unlawful and dangerous.

Dr Maher said that she hopes that one day the authorities will do more to regulate whitening products as these products can be bought at any counter “without prescription”.

She said that many long term users of fairness creams came to her clinic with a difficult-to-treat condition.

But she expressed concern that no amount of official bans or public information campaigns will stop people risking serious damage to their health in the pursuit of what they think is beauty.

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Let’s talk about corruption and public life

1: Meme Analysis (Jiali Fan: 26808048)

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‘Where is the capital of India?  – In Swiss banks’

 This Meme is making a pun here, as the old man was asking where is the India’s capital which is New Delhi, but the little boy was thinking that all of their capital which means money is in the Swiss bank.

‘Black money’ – the name for economic activities outside formal banking channels and include cash transactions in high-value assets of gold and real estate- is one of India’s biggest scourges.

This money is funnelled by corrupt politicians and colluding industrialists into Swiss Bank and all that money lies beyond the reach of the tax authorities, creditors and anti-corruption investigators. Recently, due to international pressure, Swiss government agreed to disclose the names of the account holders only if the respective government formally asked for it and in the report, India has more money in Swiss bank than the other top 4 countries including Russia, UK, Ukraine and China combined.

Deposits in the territory of Switzerland by nationals of following countries:

India – $1,456 billion

Russia – $470 billion

UK – $390 billion

Ukraine – 100 billion

China – 96 billion

Ambit Capital Research said in a research note: ‘Given that India’s GDP in calendar year 2016 is expected to be $2.3 trillion, the size of India’s black economy is about USD 460 billion, which is larger than the stated GDP of emerging markets like Thailand and Argentina’.

The black money is created by way of illegal practices and the control of government is not desired by such people and the ratio of black money is double than the legal money in Indian economic system. India’s black money pile is unusually large for several reasons. First and foremost, over half of the country’s output comes from the small, informal sector, where cash transactions are the norm. For example, an obvious phenomenon is that when consumers want to buy a product, the seller will tell them half of the payment as a formal payment and demand the rest in cash. That cash payment is what Indians refer to as ‘black money’ and finally go to the Swiss Bank. It means the seller can avoid a hefty capital gains tax bill. Buyers benefit too because the lower the declared value of the property, the lower the property tax they will be obliged to pay.

Indian economy, here persisting poverty and unemployment and national debt do not allow any Indian stash away his money in foreign banks rather than in the Indian banks and that too the illegally earned money so as to escape tax and finance laws in India. No doubt, India’s economic situation is such that it can ill-afford any kind of negative economic environment. The government of India should certainly take this issue seriously and try to bring back the black money as soon as possible.

However, why the Indian Government is not asking to Swiss Bank? The answer is simple as the government is working under the influence of those politicians and industrialists who have huge deposit in Swiss bank. They cannot expose their own people.

References:

Sanjoy Majumder 2016, Will India’s tax evasion amnesty scheme curb ‘black money’?, BBC News.

The Hindu 2016, Indian money in Swiss banks dips by 33% to Rs.8,392 crore.

Continue reading “Let’s talk about corruption and public life”

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Family violence is leading to an increasing number of young homelessness

Family violence is a significant reason for young people sleeping rough, and the incidence of such violence is ‘significantly higher’ than previously thought, according to charities working with homeless people.

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                       (Young people sleeping rough in Melbourne’s CBD. Photo: Jiali Fan)

‘Young people fear for their own safety which necessitates them leaving their homes for safer accommodation,’ said Ian Gough, Manager of Consumer Programs for the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) which is a peak body representing people working to stop homelessness.

‘At least 80 per cent of the young people who come to CHP were homeless because of family violence,” Mr Gough added.

He said that young people sleeping rough were not homeless in the ‘roofless’ sense because most had housing, but that housing has gradually or immediately become unsafe for them.

The state government is currently spending $55 million of taxpayer funds on more than 100 specialist homelessness services for young people through to June 2020, Mr Gough said.

Jess Lake is a 21-year-old girl who has experienced more than three years of homelessness in Swanston St, because of family violence similar to that described by Mr Gough.

‘I was being bullied by my mom and I left, I couldn’t endure it anymore,’ Ms Lake said.

‘I want to try to move back home now but I’ve got black listed by my mom and even my son passed way as I don’t have stable accommodation ’ she added.

The Victorian Government has committed $152 million for crisis accommodation in this year’s budget, acting on the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

But this action is unlikely to immediately stop the increasing amount of homeless youth.

‘I’d contact the service system but they just let me wait,’ Ms Lake said.

Mr Gough said it’s hard to deliver ‘early intervention’ because many victims don’t ask for help until they’re forced to leave.

Despite this, he said, CHP’s mission is to end homelessness in Victoria through preventing violence using long-term strategies like changing attitudes through education.