Social Science in the News

This page has links to social science research which has made the headlines.

Poor pupils are still being let down by the English education system, Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned.

In a speech on Thursday, he will highlight the "appalling injustice" of children from poorer homes continuing to fall behind their wealthier peers.

Read More (BBC)

Autonomous robots have been the focus of interest of the French commission of reflection on the research ethics related to digital science and technology, CERNA, since 2013. Some private companies have been looking into this as well.

What has attracted the attention of legal experts is their very nature: their autonomy.

Read More (Euroscientist)

Far from being less valuable than those with technical degrees, arts and humanities students develop key skills.

The limited contact hours in many arts and humanities degrees can be good preparation for the world of work, rather that the sign of an easy course.

Read More (The Guardian)

Reproducibility of findings has been a hot-button issue in social science over the last year, and as the election approaches, the reproducibility of findings related to voting is especially relevant.

A recent study published in PNAS reassesses previously published data about ways to increase voter turnout and finds that language cues actually don’t have a significant effect on voter behavior.

Read More (Ars Technica)

According to an exclusive YouGov poll for TES, 70 per cent of teachers want to stay in the European Union and more than half think that a Brexit would damage their pupils’ futures.

Miriam González Durántez, an international lawyer and panellist for a TES post-vote online debate, says we all have not only the right, but also the duty to step into the referendum debate, get informed and vote.

Read More (TES)

You know who’s really happy about the way Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is going? Political scientists.

That’s because whether Mr. Trump wins or loses, academics who study these elections for a living are going to find out stuff they think is really interesting.

Read More (The Christian Science Monitor)

THIS was an important and even revelatory week in American politics, and we should take note of it.

Contrary to what I’d argue has been the single most firmly held conviction about this campaign by observers left and right, a terrorist attack did not help the Republican candidate in the race for president. Indeed, it seems to have weakened him.

Read More (The New York Times)

Philadelphia has introduced a levy on carbonated sugary drinks, despite a multimillion-dollar campaign by the beverage industry to block it.

It will become the first major US city to implement a so-called "soda tax", which supporters say will improve the health of 1.5 million residents.

Read More (BBC)

A wave of disruption has hit news organisations around the world, with potentially profound consequences both for publishers and the future of news production, according to a report by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Its fifth Digital News Report says the combined effects of the rise of social platforms, an accelerating move to mobile devices and a growing rejection by consumers of online advertising has undermined many of the business models that support quality news.

Read More (University of Oxford)

The Age of Em is a fanatically serious attempt, by an economist and scholar at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, to use economic and social science to forecast in fine detail how this world (if it is even possible) will actually work.

The future it portrays is very strange and, in the end, quite horrific for everyone involved.

Read More (The Guardian)

The ancient Greeks had different words for different kinds of love — like Ludus (playful love), Pragma (longstanding love) and Agape (universal love).

Sixteen hundred years ago, Augustine argued that the essence of a good life is choosing the right things to love and loving them well.

Read More (The New York Times)

We are the distracted generations, wasting hours a day checking irrelevant emails and intrusive social media accounts.

And this "always on" culture - exacerbated by the smartphone - is actually making us more stressed and less productive, according to some reports.

Read More (BBC)

Researchers found demand for sugary cereals fell by 48% if consumers knew a tax was being applied and consumers purchased healthier alternatives.

The study, carried out by experts from Newcastle, York and Anglia Ruskin Universities, examined the impact of both a 20% and 40% tax on unhealthier cereals and soft drinks containing sugar. It also looked at whether telling people they were being taxed influenced the way they shopped.

Read More (Science Daily)

According to a new study published today in the journal Population Development and Review, 61% of citizens within the EU-15 see themselves as European in addition to or in lieu of their national identity in 2013, compared to 58% on average from 1996 to 2004. The largest increases were seen in Germany, Austria, Sweden, and Finland, and surprisingly also in Greece.

In contrast the United Kingdom and France saw a decline in European identity, with the UK coming at the very bottom. The study was limited to the EU-15 only for consistency and comparability with the previous study, which used data from 1996-2004, when there were only 15 member states in the EU.

Read More (Phys.org)

Political pundits and pollsters expected Britain’s 2015 general election to be a tight race.

Nearly every national poll had Labour and the Conservatives running neck and neck, and forecasters predicted that the election would be so close that it would result in a hung Parliament.

Read More (Washington Post)

Kenneth Bunker looks at the state of the major parties as they head into the EU referendum campaign, and assesses what different results might mean for each of them.

He argues that, overall, we can expect winning parties will try and spin their victories as heroic and losing parties will attempt to spin their losses as hope for the future.

Read More (LSE)

An international research team has identified that ancient crop remains excavated from sites in Madagascar consist of Asian species like rice and mung beans: the first archaeological evidence that settlers from South Asia are likely to have colonised the island over a thousand years ago.

Genetic research has confirmed that the inhabitants of Madagascar do indeed share close ancestry with Malaysians, Polynesians, and other speakers of what is classed the Austronesian language family.

Read More (University of Oxford)

The truck-size metal container sitting in a downtown park here isn't meant to raise awareness about the global shipping industry, though it may nudge some people's curiosity in that direction.

Step into the carpeted interior, and it's something completely different: a combination of an art installation and social science research project that lets people converse with others in far-flung regions of the world, on a life-size screen.

Read More (Daily Mail)

The journal Political Analysis has recently published a “virtual issue” on “Recent Innovations in Text Analysis for Social Science.”

In addition to the guest editor’s introduction, there are seven papers in the virtual issue. All of the papers are available for free reading online, for a limited time. I spoke to University of California at San Diego political scientist Margaret Roberts, who edited the issue, about the subject matter. What follows is a lightly edited version of our discussion.

Read More (Washington Post)

Booze will forever be in headlines.

Most recently our favorite liquid pastime has been in the news for the silly names we slap on it, the cities which love it most, and the people (of all ages) who imbibe.

Read More (Uproxx)

The English Dialects App (free for Android and iOS) was launched in January 2016 and has been downloaded more than 70,000 times.

To date, more than 30,000 people from over 4,000 locations around the UK have provided results on how certain words and colloquialisms are pronounced. A new, updated version of the app – which attempts to guess where you’re from at the end of the quiz – is available for download from this week.

Read More (Cambridge University)

Marketers love Malcolm Gladwell. They love his pithy, reductionist approach to popular science: his tendency to sacrifice verity for the sake of a good "just-so” story. And in doing this, what is Malcolm Gladwell but a marketer at heart? No wonder our industry is gaga over him.

We love anyone who can oversimplify complexity down to the point where it can be appropriated as yet another marketing “angle."

Read More (Media Post)

The Chinese government is paying its employees to generate positive comments on blog posts, and those positive comments totaled about 488 million from 2013 to 2014, a study from Harvard University researchers revealed last week.

The same group of researchers, led by Director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science Gary King, previously reported on “50 cent party members” — a group hired and paid 50 cents a post — to redirect conversations on social media.

Read More (PBS)

The rise of User-Generated Content (UGC) -- information submitted by members of the public or posted on social media -- has changed journalism forever, according to a new study in Digital Journalism.

As Lisette Johnston from City University, London, explains: "As more news organisations move towards becoming 'digital first', the skills journalists are expected to possess have changed. They must become more "tech-savvy" … In turn, the role of the journalist itself is being redefined, as are the skills needed by newsroom staff."

Read More (Science Daily)

WHEN A ROGUE researcher last week released 70,000 OkCupid profiles, complete with usernames and sexual preferences, people were pissed. When Facebook researchers manipulated stories appearing in Newsfeeds for a mood contagion study in 2014, people were really pissed.

OkCupid filed a copyright claim to take down the dataset; the journal that published Facebook’s study issued an “expression of concern.” Outrage has a way of shaping ethical boundaries. We learn from mistakes.

Read More (Wired)

A new report this week revealed that every day, 15 babies are stillborn or die within four weeks of being born.

But perhaps the most shocking aspect of the report, from MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries Across the UK), is the significant variations it reveals in death rates across the country.

Read More (The Guardian)

Terrorism is a threat everywhere. According to a Foreign Policy report, the worst terrorist events in 2015 occurred in Cameroon, Egypt, Iraq, Kenya, Nigeria, Syria and Yemen.

2016 has followed in step, with terrorist attacks occurring in locations as diverse as Belgium, Pakistan and Turkey.

Read More (The Conversation)

Despite their obvious differences, the UK and Brazil face stark similarities in the urban challenges they face.

That was the conclusion of a workshop on ‘Urban Dialogues’ held in Brazil earlier this month, organised by Dr Sarah Ayres from the University of Bristol and Professor Clélio Campolina Diniz of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Read More (Bristol University)

Preliminary results from eight UK and US police forces reveal rates of assault against officers are 15% higher when they use body-worn cameras.

The latest findings, from one of the largest randomised-controlled trials in criminal justice research, highlight the need for cameras to be kept on and recording at all stages of police-public interaction – not just when an individual officer deems it necessary – if police use-of-force and assaults against police are to be reduced.

Read More (Cambridge University)

ON MAY 8, a group of Danish researchers publicly released a dataset of nearly 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid, including usernames, age, gender, location, what kind of relationship (or sex) they’re interested in, personality traits, and answers to thousands of profiling questions used by the site.

When asked whether the researchers attempted to anonymize the dataset, Aarhus University graduate student Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, who was lead on the work, replied bluntly: “No. Data is already public.”

Read More (Wired)

Over the last few decades, the world has witnessed the proliferation of a new type of revolution.

Alternatively labeled “negotiated,” “democratic,” “electoral,” “color,” “nonviolent” or “unarmed,” these revolutions largely eschew violent tactics and have become a distinguishing feature of contemporary international politics.

Read More (Washington Post)

Wide variations can be seen in how far citizens from different countries evade tax. While this can be attributed to how well institutions deter tax avoidance through audits and fines, cultural differences may also play a part.

New research, reported in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, suggests that two countries, with contrasting reputations for trustworthiness, can show subtle differences in their compliance for paying taxes. "Our experiments demonstrate that Italians on average are just as honest as Swedes.

Read More (Phys.org)

Gender equality in work-family roles has not yet been reached in Britain, with a fifth of families still relying on the father being the sole full-time breadwinner despite a significant growth in dual earning households, according to new research.

As well as a growth in both parents working full-time, the study found an increase in the working hours of mothers in part-time employment and a growing proportion of households with 'non-standard' working patterns.

Read More (Phys.org)

Gender politics and science have never gotten along very well.

The patriarchal system was—and in some cultures still is—based on the premise that women are more mercurial, less deliberative and physically less sturdy than men. Those are perfectly easy beliefs to hold—at least until you subject them to the least bit of intellectual scrutiny or real-world testing, at which point they fall apart completely.

Read More (TIME)

Researchers have identified a powerful human motive that has not been adequately appreciated by social and behavioral scientists: the drive to make sense of our lives and the world around us.

Published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Carnegie Mellon University’s George Loewenstein and Warwick Business School’s Nick Chater developed a theoretical model of the drive for sense-making and how it is traded off against other goals.

Read More (Carnegie Mellon)

Tablet and laptop users, take note! Using digital platforms for reading may change the way you think, making you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly, a new study has found.

The findings serve as another wake-up call to how digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought, researchers said.

Read More (Economic Times)

Major changes are coursing through France’s research and higher-education system, many of them intended to simplify bureaucracy and promote research excellence.

In 2013, president Francois Hollande's government passed a law to accelerate the consolidation of the country’s fragmented landscape of universities, prestigious ‘grand écoles’ and research-agency labs, into regional clusters that could develop common research policies and pool services

Read More (Nature)

Google has some of the most powerful computers and smartest algorithms in the world, has hired some of the best brains in computing, and through its purchase of British firm Deepmind has acquired AI expertise that recently saw an AI beat a human grandmaster at the game of go.

Why then would we not want to apply this to potentially solving medical problems – something Google’s grandiose, even hyperbolic statements suggest the company wishes to?

Read More (The Conversation)

SAGE Publishing, the parent of Social Science Space, recently held the webinar From Publication to the Public: Expanding your research beyond academia with Maria Balinska, editor of The Conversation US.

The Conversation is an independent, non-profit media organization that publishes news analysis and commentary written by academics and edited by journalists aimed at the general public; Social Science Space, for one, routinely publishes some of their stories.

Read More (Social Science Space)

This week on Hidden Brain: Traffic. You hate it, we hate it, the rest of the world hates it, and it only seems to be getting worse.

But is there a way to make roads safer and faster? Of course! (We just normally do the opposite).

Read More (NPR)

It might seem wrongheaded to ask whether sociology still matters.

The discipline’s intellectual wealth is easily demonstrated by the plethora of significant academic publications that British sociologists achieve year by year.

Read More (Social Science Space)

If graduates are feeling like they never get any better off, despite having a degree, maybe that's because they really are getting poorer.

The latest official statistics show that the long ice age of wage stagnation is grinding on - and that graduate earnings have been in a deep freeze stretching back for the past decade.

Read More (BBC)

Highly novel research proposals are being systematically turned down because they fall outside evaluators’ paradigms of understanding, a new study suggests.

It indicates that humans are not good at approving truly creative new ideas, a finding that has implications for the economy and culture, as well as academia.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Has western society reached “peak stuff”? If reports that once-insatiable shoppers are starting to cut back are true, what are the consequences for the old economic theory that more consumption equals greater happiness?

That is a question a Bank of England blogger has posed, with interesting and upbeat conclusions.

Read More (The Guardian)

The government’s plan to force all schools to become academies has come under further attack with research which suggests that council-maintained schools outperform academies at inspection.

Analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) has found that 86% of local authority schools are rated good or outstanding by the schools watchdog, Ofsted, compared with 82% of academies and 79% of free schools.

Read More (The Guardian)

Interdisciplinarity is a word à la mode, as shown by the contributions in Nature's special issue on the topic (September 2015).

However, the collection of articles and the statistics they present confirm that interdisciplinary science is still not mainstream: it is still rarely supported by funders of scientific research despite the increasing number of calls for interdisciplinary projects, it is still rarely taught in higher education curricula, and it is still not recognized by many academic institutions.

Read More (New York Academy of Sciences)

The lesson is that continued research is required into social science aspects of human response to warnings.

For example, a recent study found somewhat mixed results when “consequence-based warnings” were issued.

Read More (Forbes)

A global science body set up to assess the ecological health and biodiversity of the planet is struggling to solve its own lack of diversity: a monoculture of natural scientists on its staff.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was established in 2012 to assess scientific and local knowledge on the state of the natural world.

Read More (Nature)

It’s a stereotype, but many of us have made the assumption that scientists are a bit rigid and less artistic than others. Artists, on the other hand, are often seen as being less rational than the rest of us.

Sometimes described as the left side of the brain versus the right side – or simply logical thinking versus artistic creativity – the two are often seen as polar opposites.

Read More (The Conversation)

A judge in Nebraska has ruled that Pastafarianism is not a religion and that prisoner Stephen Cavanaugh may not wear a colander on his head; he had claimed that this was a requirement of his beliefs, and so protected under the first amendment.

Since Pastafarianism was clearly invented as a spoof on fundamentalist Christianity, and, in particular, the demand that literal creationism be taught in science classes, the judge was obviously right.

Read More (The Guardian)

Workers aged over 40 perform at their best if they work three days a week, according to economic researchers.

Their research analysed the work habits and brain test results of about 3,000 men and 3,500 women aged over 40 in Australia.

Read More (BBC)

As we stare down the barrel of a world totally transformed (read: destroyed) by climate change in the not-so-distant future, a lot of the brightest minds around the world are spending a good deal of time trying to figure out how to mitigate its effects.

Considering that fossil fuel use is the primary driver of climate change, it makes sense that a lot of the proposed climate change solutions involve phasing out fossil fuels entirely. While some have derided this fossil fuel divestment plan as unattainable, others think it’s entirely possible—so long as we have 20 to 80 years to make it happen.

Read More (Motherboard)

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds should be given higher priority in admissions decisions to stop primary schools becoming divided by class, according to education charity the Sutton Trust.

More than 1,000 primary schools in England admit far fewer pupils from poor or disadvantaged families than live in the school’s local area, a report from the trust found, with faith schools especially likely to have lower proportions of children on free school meals than their surrounding neighbourhoods.

Read More (The Guardian)

Child inequality is worse in the UK than many other developed countries, a damning study by Unicef says.

The UN’s body for children found “concerning gaps in health, education, and income” with the most disadvantaged children “left to fall behind”.

Read More (Huffington Post)

While poor literacy skills severely limit people’s access to better-paying and more rewarding jobs, data from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills also shows that individuals with poor literacy skills are far more likely than those with advanced literacy skills to report poor health, to believe that they have little impact on political processes, and not to participate in associative or volunteer activities.

Ensuring that all people have solid foundation skills has become one of the central aims of the post-2015 development agenda.

Read More (OECD)

For centuries, happiness was exclusively a concern of the humanities; a matter for philosophers, novelists and artists. In the past five decades, however, it has moved into the domain of science and given us a substantial body of research.

This wellspring of knowledge now offers us an enticing opportunity: to consider happiness as the leading measure of well-being, supplanting the current favourite, real gross domestic product per capita, or GDP.

Read More (The Conversation)

Graduates from wealthy families "earn significantly more" in their careers than less well-off counterparts, even if they study the same course at the same university, according to research.

The study, based on 260,000 graduates in England, has examined the links between university and later income.

Read More (BBC)

Becoming unemployed changes people’s morals around the distribution of money, says a new study from The University of Nottingham.

Understanding how becoming unemployed affects people’s reasoning is important. Unemployment and the poverty it causes are associated with depression, anxiety, stress, low well-being and self-esteem.

Read More (University of Nottingham)

It’s just hours before kickoff on Super Bowl Sunday, but Adam Grant is talking about baseball.

More specifically, he’s talking about a psychology study that discovered the most frequent base stealers tend to be younger siblings.

Read More (Washington Post)

A roughly 10-minute, face-to-face conversation is enough to change about 1 in 10 voters’ attitudes toward transgender people, according to a new study by two California political science researchers.

The findings, published in the journal Science, offer a template for canvassers looking to more effectively reach out to voters who may have opposing beliefs. The results also serve as vindication for the outreach methods developed by the Los Angeles LGBT Center after a previous study employing the center’s strategies was retracted following allegations that the study’s lead author may have falsified data.

Read More (Los Angeles Times)

Nearly seven million people feel depressed when they see friends’ lives on social media, according to research that found sites like Facebook and Twitter can lead to a mindset of sadness and exclusion.

One in five (20%) people said they feel depressed by seeing their friend’s lives online in the research carried out by Opinium, as an expert warned people to “get some control back” by reducing time spent on social media.

Read More (Huffington Post)

If the science community is serious about integrating social science into its thinking and operations — and statements by everyone from Nature and the UK government to Paul Nurse, former president of the Royal Society, indicate that it is — then we social scientists must do more to make this happen.

Our input is necessary because, too often, the reach and influence of research is discovered only with hindsight.

Read More (Nature)

In a new paper published in the journal Science on Friday, social scientists from the U.S. and the U.K. called for environmental science and the social sciences to come together in combatting ecological destruction.

“Sustainability is ultimately about balance — balancing people’s differing needs and desires with those of their environment so that both people and nature can persist,” Dr. Christina Hicks, a lecturer at the Lancaster Environment Centre in England and the paper’s lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email. “People will necessarily strive to achieve greater well-being, but what that well-being consists of can and will vary.”

Read More (Huffington Post)

We need to challenge the concept of the superstar researcher whose groundbreaking discovery will help beat global poverty.

Instead, we must support whole communities where knowledge emerging from different places can be combined, reframed and repackaged to respond to the most urgent humanitarian and development challenges.

Read More (The Guardian)

Apologies often march hand-in-hand with a claim about intent—"But I didn't mean it like that!"

Even our legal systems recognize this idea. We differentiate between accidentally killing a person (manslaughter) and intentional, planned killing (first-degree murder).

Read More (Ars Technica)

New Cambridge ‘crime harm index’ published today quantifies true cost of crime: damage caused to victims and society. Experts call on UK government to adopt low-cost metric for greater transparency of crime trends and risks. Some UK forces have already used approach with early successes in identifying ‘harm spots’.

Experts call on UK government to adopt low-cost metric for greater transparency of crime trends and risks. Some UK forces have already used approach with early successes in identifying ‘harm spots’.

Read More (University of Cambridge)

Today sees the introduction of the National Living Wage, a flagship policy of the Chancellor, George Osborne, who boldly announced last year that "Britain deserves a pay rise".

However there's one gaping hole in this policy, under 25s, those who keep our service sector running and often fill the most underpaid jobs, will be excluded.

Read More (Huffington Post)

The announcement that Tata Steel are to put all of their British steel operations up for sale is the biggest challenge for British industry in a generation and it needs a coherent response from industry, government and trade unions.

This is a proud industry, sitting at the centre of so many communities across the United Kingdom.

Read More (New Statesman)

Every nursery in the country should have a qualified teacher to help children develop key skills like speech and language, a leading charity has said.

Thousands of toddlers are struggling to keep up with their peers as parents are unaware of the importance of pre-school development, Save The Children warned.

Read More (Huffington Post)

Edited by Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, The Well-Being of Children in the UK looks at how children in the UK are doing in comparison with children elsewhere and whether the UK is moving in the right direction in terms of child well-being.

Looking at 48 indicators of well-being - including material well-being, health, mental health, education, housing and childcare - the UK scores well on 11 categories, middling on 23 and is classed as bad on 14. Good means that the UK is in the top third of the countries studied, middling indicates the middle third and bad means classed as in the bottom third.

Read More (University of York)

It has become almost a new national religion and now research shows that young people rank getting on the property ladder as more important in life than marriage, children or advancing in their career.

A study into the attitudes to property among under-40s points to a generation of people approaching middle age increasingly pessimistic that they will ever be able to afford to own their own home.

Read More (The Telegraph)

It is estimated that in 2015, more than a million people crossed the Mediterranean to Europe in search of safety and a better life. 3,770 are known to have died trying to make this journey during the same period.

This so-called “migration crisis” is the largest humanitarian disaster to face Europe since the end of World War II.

Read More (The Conversation)

The risks posed by climate change have been a subject of public policy debate in many countries. In some (most notably the United States), even the existence of an anthropogenic element in climate change remains controversial, despite increasing scientific consensus.

Consequently, citizens' acceptance or rejection of consensus science on climate change has become a topic of interest among social scientists.

Read More (Nature)

Researchers have used high-definition video cameras on the roof of a large indoor stadium to track how strangers formed groups.

They found that individuals were likely to join groups containing members with similar physical traits – including levels of attractiveness.

Read More (University of Oxford)

Today’s terrorist attacks in Belgium claimed at least 32 lives. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks. After the earlier attacks in Paris, we featured a variety of social science perspectives, beginning with my overview.

Below is an elaborated summary of our previous content that bears on the attacks.

Read More (Washington Post)

My spirits soared when I heard of the Sock Doctrine.

Finally, science had cracked the enigma of why pairs of socks are inevitably parted.

Read More (Financial Times)

In an increasingly globalised economy and culturally diverse country, a new report from King’s College London and NCS reveals a ‘concerning' lack of social integration and level of loneliness amongst the next generation of young people, which could be harmful to the UK’s economy and wellbeing in the future.

Authored by Dr Jennifer Lau, a researcher specialising in the psychology of adolescent mental health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, and NCS, the report explores why ‘social intelligence’, defined as the ability to apply our understanding of people’s emotions to decide the appropriate form of interaction with others, will become increasingly important to future generations.

Read More (King's College London)

In an era of bitter partisanship, politicians and pundits across the ideological spectrum seem to agree on one thing: Our prison system is broken.

With less than 5 percent of the world’s population yet nearly 25 percent of the world’s prison inmates, the United States spends too much money locking up too many people for too long.

Read More (The Washington Post)

Chancellor George Osborne has rejected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's claim that he has "declared war on the disabled" with "callous cuts".

The Budget said £1.3bn of £4bn extra cuts needed by 2020 would come from reductions in Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for disabled people.

Read More (BBC)

Finally, a social science study to back up what anyone who has loved—or loved and lost—already knows:

Sentimentality can lead to some financially irresponsible buying decisions.

Read More (TIME)

Surveys are key tools of social science research. But sometimes they’re tainted by responses from subjects who fail to follow the instructions they’ve been given.

Researchers looking into this problem have confirmed what the more conscientious among us have long suspected: Habitually careless people are the worst kind of people. And their carelessness can distort results of survey-based research.

Read More (Quartz)

Social science, including behavioral economics, has recently come under fire as failing to generate studies with reproducible results.

The Reproducibility Project made waves in August of 2015 when it announced that reproducing social science experiments is very difficult—not because the original studies were difficult, but because published findings often aren’t as strongly backed by the data as the original authors claimed.

Read More (Ars Technica)

The societies we live in can have a direct influence on how dishonest people may be, according to a new study from The University of Nottingham.

The study ‘Intrinsic Honesty and the Prevalence of Rule Violations across Societies’ found that people from more corrupt societies were likely to be more dishonest than those from societies where rule-breaking is frowned upon.

Read More (The University of Nottingham)

Teachers working in the most deprived schools, where attainment levels are lower and children are needier, are more likely to be inexperienced and therefore less effective at their job, according to new research.

The study by the University of Cambridge was published on Wednesday ahead of a summit organised by the Sutton Trust education charity to discuss how to improve social mobility through schools – in particular, how to ensure the best teaching for the most deprived children.

Read More (The Guardian)

Last year, a widely reported paper in Science found that less than half of published research in top, peer-reviewed psychology journals failed to replicate when the studies were repeated by other researchers.

Last week, a new commentary in Science called into question the conclusions of the original study, suggesting instead that the data suggest “the reproducibility of psychological science is quite high.”

Read More (Washington Post)

Does the gender of executives make a difference to business performance? The evidence is mounting that it does.

McKinsey, the management consultancy, has published research showing that mixed-gender boards outperform all-male boards. Separate studies found a positive relationship between the diversity of executive boards and returns on assets and investments among Fortune-listed US companies.

Read More (Financial Times)

It’s always horrible when people lose their jobs. But, sometimes, the hard truth is that redundancies can represent a victory for public policy.

A plastic bag manufacturer in Lancashire last week went bust, at a cost of 40 local jobs. A manager for Nelson Packaging blamed the 5p levy on plastic bags, introduced by the Government in England last October.

Read More (The Independent)

Everyone wants to feel special and most of us like being asked questions about ourselves. Those simple facts help explain the success of the cohort study in which researchers kept in touch with 70,000 British citizens whose mothers signed them up for life-long studies, and who have little to gain from participating other than the satisfaction of securing a small but vital place in history.

Britain, we learn from Helen Pearson’s The Life Project, is the home of the longest-running birth cohort study, which began following the lives of almost 14,000 babies born in a single week in 1946.

Read More (Financial Times)

According to two Harvard professors and their collaborators, a widely reported study released last year that said more than half of all psychology studies cannot be replicated is itself wrong.

In an attempt to determine the “replicability” of psychological science, a consortium of 270 scientists known as the Open Science Collaboration (OSC) tried to reproduce the results of 100 published studies. More than half of them failed, creating sensational headlines worldwide about the “replication crisis” in psychology.

Read More (Harvard Gazette)

Social science research examines how the mood of gamblers can change the way they think about risk.

New Yorkers buy more lottery tickets when the weather is good and when their sports teams win games.

Read More (NPR)

The Department for Education has made significant progress in providing 15 hours of free childcare to more parents of 3- and 4-year olds and parents of disadvantaged 2-year-olds, according to the National Audit Office.

It has not yet, however, achieved full value for money because it cannot track the effectiveness of its substantial investment of £2.7 billion.

Read More (Politics Home)

New research looks at how gender shapes competitions. Multiple strands of social science research suggest highly competitive settings are likely to dissuade qualified women from tossing their hats in the ring.

NPR explores the consequences, the implications and also the causes for this disparity in the willingness to compete.

Read More (NPR)

Michael James is 13 and has the long, lean look of a boy who has just had a growth spurt. His dad’s a lorry driver; Michael has decided he wants to be the first in his family to go to university.

His siblings who have left school are working – one’s a doorman, another is a traffic operator, directing lorries. His brother in the year above wants to be a lorry driver like his dad. Michael wants to get into football management and hopes university will help.

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Ten new housing developments in England are to be built with healthy living in mind, under an NHS scheme.

Clinicians, designers and technology experts will work together to create the "healthy new towns".

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Young migrants from EU countries have higher employment rates and are less likely to seek jobseeker's allowance than their UK peers, according to study by the Department of Social Policy and Intervention.

Dr Thees Spreckelsen and Professor Martin Seeleib-Kaiser analysed UK Quarterly Labour Force survey data between 2010 and 2014 and found that migrants from central and eastern Europe (defined as those from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) scored the highest, with 82% of them in employment compared with 73% of young people born in the UK.

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Mental health effects every area of government in varying degrees from our NHS that has seen the highest rise in young people seeking help for mental health disorders.

In our prisons where we have seen nine out of ten prisoners suffering from one or more mental health disorders and 95% of young offenders suffering from one or more mental health disorder.

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Cambridge University will host the UK’s first ever hip-hop conference to examine the likes of Kanye West, Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah.

Hip hop scholars from around the world have been invited to attend the symposium at Wolfson College in June to discuss differing interpretations of rap songs.

Read More (Daily Mail)

The American commute is getting longer.

It now takes the average worker 26 minutes to travel to work, according the the U.S. Census Bureau. That's the longest it's been since the Census began tracking this data in 1980. Back then the typical commute was only 21.7 minutes. The average American commute has gotten nearly 20 percent longer since then.

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Universities need a new funding model, say Andrei E. Ruckenstein, Mark E. Smith and Nicola C. Owen, who want academics to take the lead in tackling the problem.

Most conversations about the massification and marketisation of UK higher education focus on the increasing reliance of universities’ budgets on tuition fees and concerns around the cost to the public purse of the projected growth of loan defaults.

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The effects on distant tomorrows of the decisions we make today have never been greater.

As we change our planet, ourselves and, potentially, our descendants, in ever more dramatic ways, this issue of Nature takes stock: do we have the brains and the tools to understand and account for the future and, if not, what should be done?

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