The above RadioLab/ NPR broadcast was unusually good, and got me thinking.
It's a long show, but toward the end it spoke of how (in rat studies) certain factors improved a rat's stress levels, and consequently imroved health.
I think there were four clear atlernatives that had been tested and shown effection. One was taking out your distress on another creature (i.e. kicking the dog). Another was taking out your stress on an inanimate object. I forget the 3rd, but it's on the radio show, just listen. The 4th was acheiving a feeling of control.
In the case of the rat, well, maybe you'd rather not hear what horrible things were done to that poor animal.
But I got to thinking: It like a safety blanket, or a teddy bear, or carrying a gun around with a conceal license...
or curioisty. For me, knowing things learning things, is relaxing, and I suppose it might be, at least in part, kinda what they are talking about. A feeling of better control over my situation through knowledge. Maybe.