September Tip Sheet: Culture & Living

Tip sheets highlight timely news and events at Washington University in St. Louis. For more information on any of the stories below or for assistance in arranging interviews, please see the contact information listed with each story.

The electronic leash
Cell phones on college campuses make ‘letting go’ a challenge

More than half of college students now own a cell phone, according to the authors of *Letting Go*.

The author of a book offering advice to parents sending a child off to college says that the ubiquitous cell phone makes it easier for parents and students to keep in touch, but it also offers a challenge to the “letting-go” process. Karen Levin Coburn, assistant vice chancellor for students and associate dean for the freshman transition at Washington University in St. Louis, is co-author of Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years, which provides a comprehensive, down-to-earth guide for parents experiencing the varying emotions of parenting a college student. The book, now in its newly released fourth edition, has sold more than 300,000 copies since first being released in 1988. “When we wrote our 1997 edition, very few people used cell phones. They just weren’t an issue,” Coburn says. “Now the majority of students have a cell phone and they’ve made a huge difference, pro and con, in the communication patterns between parents and students.”

Addicted to the burn
High incidence of exercise dependence found among college-age adults

For some people, exercise can turn into an addiction.

Since the 1980s, Americans have recognized the importance of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. But for some people, exercise can turn into an addiction. According to a recent study at the George Warren Brown (GWB) School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, symptoms of exercise dependence are common among college-age adults, and significantly higher in college-age women. “Exercise dependence in individuals with eating disorders can pose serious health risks, but perhaps just as important are those individuals with primary exercise dependence,” says Matthew O. Howard, Ph.D., associate professor at GWB and co-author of the study. “These people include those who work out in the gym for hours at a time, those who always seem to be at the gym, and those who routinely cancel events with family, friends and co-workers so that they can complete their strenuous workout routines.”

Hey, big spender
Tip percentage declines as bills increase

Study finds that the larger the bill, the smaller the tip percentage that food servers, hair stylists and cab drivers receive.

In the world of gratuities, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that the larger the bill, the smaller the tip percentage that food servers, hair stylists and cab drivers receive. Compiling data from nearly 1,000 tips left in restaurants, hair salons and with cab drivers, the researchers found that the percent of the tip actually decreases with the amount of the bill across all three tipping situations. Their findings also indicate that with bills more than $100, the percent of the tip levels off — if the bill is $200, the server is likely to receive the same percentage as if it were $100.

Architecture without architects
Even in the old world, everyday buildings define culture and character

Churches and chapels comprise the Aegean Islands’ most distinctive architectural forms.

The history of architecture is largely the history of official buildings commissioned by ruling elites. Yet with the home improvement market expected to reach record-high levels in 2003, it is worth remembering that the true character of any city or town rests largely on the vernacular traditions of ordinary, often architecturally untrained citizens. In his forthcoming book The Aegean Crucible, Constantine E. Michaelides, emeritus dean and professor of the School of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, explains how many of the Greek island’s most defining forms were developed by local builders responding to particular climatic, cultural and political circumstances.

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