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isten in English

Our Depressed Society

Published: 4.30.2018
Level 6   |   Time: 3:08
Accent: Canadian
Source: The Ezra Klein Show (4.16.2018)

TOEFL: A discussion on how loneliness affects depression, and how loneliness can be measured by sleep patterns.


You can download the file [ HERE ].


triangle Directions

  1. REVIEW the vocabulary.
  2. LISTEN to the audio above.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers (Show Answers)

triangle Vocabulary

  • anxiety [n] - nervousness, fear
  • factors [n] - causes
  • determinants [n] - causes
  • put it [phv] - say
  • savannas [n] - grasslands
  • band together [exp] - form groups or tribes
  • a tribe [n] - a cooperative group
  • an instinct [n] - a natural tendency
  • a hive [n] - a bee's home
  • disband [v] - separate
  • a crisis [n] - a big problem
  • unprecedentedly [adv] - the most ever
  • be bought in [exp] - believe
  • ring in my head [exp] - be important/memorable to me
  • slightly [adv] - a little
  • rouse [v] - wake up
  • vigilant [adj] - awake and watchful
  • a thesis [n] - a theory
  • a proxy [n] - replacement, substitution
  • off the grid [exp] - away from modern society
  • the Hutterites [p] - a communal group of humans in the US who live without modern technology
  • virtually [adv] - almost
  • inevitable [adj] - unavoidable
  • malady [n] - illness, sickness

[n] - noun,  [p] - person,  [v] - verb,  [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Comprehension Questions

  1. How many (known) biological causes are there for depression?

  2. How many (known) environmental causes are there for depression?

  3. Which type of cause is loneliness?

  4. What were our ancestors very good at?
    working together
    avoiding depression

  5. How are modern humans unique?
    They have trouble sleeping.
    They don't live in the savannahs anymore.
    They are trying to disband their tribes.

  6. How many close friends did most Americans say they had in the past?

  7. How many close friends do most Americans say they have today?

  8. Why did our ancestors feel anxious and depressed when they were alone?
    They were in danger.
    They were very social.
    They couldn't find food.

  9. How can they measure people's loneliness?
    By counting how many close friends people have
    By counting how often people wake up at night
    By counting how much time people spend alone

  10. What is a micro-awakening?
    A realization that we are not alone
    Waking up a little while sleeping
    A machine that measures sleep patterns

  11. When would our ancestors experience micro-awakenings?
    When they were depressed
    When they were with a lot of people
    When they were not with their tribe

  12. What type of people experience the most micro-awakenings?
    Lonely people
    Happy people
    Friendly people

  13. What is unique about the Hutterites?
    They don't use electricity.
    They can't read.
    They experience a lot of micro-awakenings.
    They experience almost no micro-awakenings.

triangle TOEFL Questions

  1. What is the discussion mainly about?
    (A) The evolution of human sleep patterns
    (B) The importance of being in a cooperative tribe or gorup
    (C) The difference between animal groups and human tribes
    (D) Ways to improve sleep quality

  2. Which of these statements is not mentioned by the man?
    (A) Loneliness is one of the most important causes of depression.
    (B) There are more biological than environmental factors causing depression.
    (C) Modern humans seem to be separating from their tribes.
    (D) Ancient humans were good at working together.

  3. Why does the man talk about our human ancestors?
    (A) To show how much our society has advanced
    (B) To talk about why our human ancestors were so depressed
    (C) To show how our human ancestors were able to hunt larger animals
    (D) To show the importance of cooperation for human evolution

  4. What does the man mean when he says this?

    (A) All animals need to be in groups.
    (B) Both humans and bees prefer to live in cooperative groups.
    (C) Bees are much more collaborative than humans.
    (D) Humans are much more collaborative than bees.

  5. What does the man mean when he says this?

    (A) Modern humans have fewer close friends than in the past.
    (B) Most modern humans don't have any friends.
    (C) It is more important for modern humans to have a tribe.
    (D) Humans in the past were less likely to have close friends.

  6. What causes high levels of micro-awakenings?
    (A) Being in large groups
    (B) Poor diet
    (C) Being injured
    (D) Loneliness

  7. Why were solitary human ancestors more likely to wake up during the night?
    (A) They didn't have a group to protect them.
    (B) They were more likely to be hungry.
    (C) They didn't have electricity.
    (D) They didn't have someone to talk to.

  8. Why does the man talk about the Hutterites?
    (A) To show how being in a tribe improves sleep quality
    (B) To show how modern technology harms sleep quality
    (C) To explain why ancient humans felt lonely
    (D) To urge people to copy their social structure

triangle Script

So one of the things I learned in all the research is that there are these, there is scientific evidence for nine causes of depression and anxiety. There may well be other causes for which we dont yet have evidence. Two of those courses are biological. There are things that in your biology can make you much more sensitive to depression and anxiety, and seven are factors in the way we live. And I dont think all of those factors have increased, but I do think some of them have increased.

So I'll give you one example of one of the most powerful determinants I think which is loneliness. Professor John Cacioppo at the University of Chicago, who I've interviewed a lot, has proven that loneliness causes depression and anxiety for a very kind of simple reason. As he put it to me, if you think about the circumstances where human beings evolved right. We exist, we're able to sit in this studio for one key reason. Our ancestors on the savannas of Africa were incredibly good at one thing. They were incredibly good at banding together in cooperative tribes. They weren't bigger than the animals they took down; they were much better at working together.

Every instinct human beings have is to be in a co-operative tribe. And you know just like bees need a hive, humans need a tribe. And there's really strong evidence that we are the first humans to really try to disband our tribes.
There's a study that asks Americans, "How many close friends do you have who you can call on in a crisis?" And when they started doing it years ago, the most common answer was five. Today the most common answer, it's not the average but the most common answer, is none. So we've got this unprecedentedly lonely society. And as Professor Cacioppo put it to me, you think about the circumstances where we evolved. If you were alone and separated from the tribe, you were anxious and depressed for a really good reason. You were about to be eaten, right? You were in terrible danger. If you got injured, you would probably die.

I'm very bought in on the loneliness research. I do think this is one of our truly severe social problems, but you had something I have never seen before, which is it you can measure the lonesomeness of people all over the world by testing how often they wake up in their sleep. That was really ... that's one of those ones that has rung in my head since I read it. Can you talk a bit about that research?

Yeah. I was totally fascinated by this myself.

So everyone experiences something called micro-awakenings in their sleep sometimes, which you wouldn't register them, but you wake up very slightly and then you go back to sleep. So you are roused a little. And one of the things we know is that when people feel lonely, they experience much higher levels of micro-awakenings. We think that's because if you went to sleep on the savannas of Africa or our ancestors and you were lonely, you would be right to be vigilant and keep waking up because you weren't protected by the tribe, right? That's Professor Cacioppo best thesis, although you know it's hard to test that. But it's a very good proxy for loneliness. If people describe it as being lonely, they will certainly experience a lot more micro-awakenings.

And one of the pieces of research that Proefessor Cacioppo did is he went to spent time with this group called the Hutterites, which they live in a very no electricity off the grid. And what he found is the Hutterites experience virtually no micro-awakenings in their sleep. What this demonstrated is it's not just that loneliness is a kind of inevitable human malady. It's that it is a function of certain ways of living.

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