Social Science in the News

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

There has been much talk about whether a general election will or should take place before 2020, the key arguments behind it being that Theresa May has no mandate to carry out her programme, while also having no mandate to negotiate the exact terms of Brexit.

Calling an early election would therefore be a single-topic vote. Yossi Nehushtan explains why such an outcome would be anti-democratic.

Read More (LSE Politics and Policy Blog)

Everyone has heard about Uber drivers but how much do we know about what has been described as the 'online gig economy'?

There has been a rapid increase in this new labour market where employers use online labour platforms to engage workers for piecemeal, short-term or project-based work delivered over the internet.

Read More (University of Oxford)

Lyft CEO John Zimmer says the world would be a lot better off if so much room wasn’t taken up by cars.

In a lengthy Medium blog, Zimmer predicted Sunday within five years, self-driving vehicles will be a common sight.

Read More (International Business Times)

The value to the economy of the eight most research-intensive universities in the northern powerhouse region is almost double that of the entire Premier League, a report reveals today.

Along with the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and York, the University of Sheffield is a member of the N8 Research Partnership whose aim is to maximise the impact of its research base to enable business innovation and societal transformation.

Read More (University of Sheffield)

Academics frustrated by students who endlessly check their Facebook messages or Instagram likes during lectures might be inclined to blame boredom or downright rudeness on the part of those glued to their smartphones or laptops.

But although this explains some of the digital distraction that occurs in university classes, new research suggests that compulsive social media use might be the result of students struggling to settle in to campus life and experiencing “Fomo” – the fear of missing out on others’ experiences.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

In the week leading up to state elections in Berlin, the capital was garlanded with yet another trendy accolade, being named the 'second most liveable city in the world' by New York-based Metropolis magazine.

But points won for up-cycling disused breweries into working spaces for techies and "creatives" suggest the magazine didn't have your average Berliner in mind when it cooked up its rankings.

Read More (The Local de)

Japan’s warning that its companies may move their operations outside of the UK if it fails to negotiate favourable Brexit terms is the first major sign of how leaving the EU could affect foreign investment into Britain.

Chief among Japan’s concerns is whether or not the UK will remain part of the EU’s crucial four free movements – of people, goods, services and capital.

Read More (The Conversation)

In a recent survey of its members, the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) found that 92 percent of telcos suffered regular attacks, with just under a third facing a daily threat.

The prevalence of these attacks has forced 77 percent of ISPs to increase their spend on cybersecurity, and they're now calling on the government to boost training and funding for law enforcement—and to better educate the general public to help prevent easy exploits.

Read More (ArsTechnica)

Every day people around the world post a staggering 400 million tweets, upload 350 million photos to Facebook and view 4 billion videos on YouTube.

Analysing this mass of data can help us understand how people think and act but there are also many potential problems.

Read More (British Library)

Brazil’s nature reserves are rapidly being downsized, downgraded or entirely decommissioned as the country develops, researchers have shown.

The number of so-called PADDD events — Protected Area Downgrade, Downsize or Degazetting — in Brazil is booming, and 10 per cent of nature reserves are now affected, according to a team of scientists speaking at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii on 3 September.

Read More (

Almost everyone enjoys a bank holiday.

A three-day weekend means more time to spend with family and friends, to go out and explore the world, and to relax from the pressures of working life.

Read More (City University of London)

Researchers have looked at the time spent doing housework by men and women living in 19 countries from the early 1960s up to the first decade of the 21st century.

They calculate that over a half century across those countries, being a woman can be linked with doing two hours of extra housework per day compared with a man.

Read More (University of Oxford)

[Economics] papers are almost always distributed widely and freely long before they are published in journals. This is not standard practice in most other social sciences, or in related fields such as history and philosophy.

As a result, when journalists and others go looking online for research on matters of economics, business or even politics, they are more likely to find and be able to read work by economists than that of historians, sociologists, political scientists, management professors, you name it.

Read More (Bloomberg)

It sounds a little creepy, but around the world there are growing numbers of researchers watching people’s every move.

They watch them do their shopping, prepare a meal, put their kids to bed and even have a shower – all in the name of understanding what human beings really want from businesses, not what statistics say they want.

Read More (Raconteur)

A panel of academic and industrial thinkers has looked ahead to 2030 to forecast how advances in artificial intelligence (AI) might affect life in a typical North American city - in areas as diverse as transportation, health care and education ¬- and to spur discussion about how to ensure the safe, fair and beneficial development of these rapidly emerging technologies.

Titled "Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030," this year-long investigation is the first product of the One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100), an ongoing project hosted by Stanford to inform societal deliberation and provide guidance on the ethical development of smart software, sensors and machines.

Read More (Eurekalert)

Theresa May is being urged to consider a policy under which housing rents would be linked to local wage levels.

The call, in a report suggesting the government consider a radical new policy of “living rents”, comes as the prime minister chairs the first session of her social reform committee, which will look into how to make housing more affordable for families.

Read More (The Guardian)

In India, Delhi was dubbed the equivalent of "living in a gas chamber" by its chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Similar criticism has been levelled at major Chinese cities, with Beijing set to double the number of air monitoring stations to assess the city's air quality.

Meanwhile in the UK, Theresa May has closed the Department for Energy and Climate Change and merged it into a new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Read More (Independent)

For years, economists and psychologists have argued about whether the standard model that economists use to explain how people make decisions is correct.

It says that people make rational choices: they weigh all the options against a well-defined set of preferences to choose the one which makes them happiest, or is the most valuable to them.

Read More (The Conversation)

Cultural psychologists have long argued that people living in Western cultures show a rather distinctive pattern of self-beliefs, compared to those who live in other parts of the world. Westerners, it is claimed, are unusual in that they tend to see themselves as independent from others. A sharp contrast between Western “independence” and non-Western “interdependence” has been at the heart of psychologists’ thinking about cultural diversity for the last 25 years.

The new research, involving 73 researchers working in 35 nations and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), explored how people of different cultures see themselves and their relationships with others. The research involved 10,000 participants from over 50 cultural groups spanning all inhabited continents.

Read More (University of Sussex)

Interdisciplinarity is in vogue right now. From policymakers and funders to anthropologists and biologists — everyone seems united in the view that interdisciplinary research will guide the search for solutions to the ‘grand problems’ of our time.

Yet despite agreement about the virtues of greater collaboration between different disciplines at the EuroScience Open Forum in Manchester, United Kingdom, last week, the consensus that interdisciplinary research is hard to get off the ground was just as prevalent.

Read More (SciDevNet)

Professor Glen Bramley and colleagues at Heriot-Watt were key contributors to a new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation demonstrating that dealing with the effects of poverty costs the UK £78 billion a year, £1,200 for every person.

The report, 'Counting the Cost of UK Poverty', written by academics from Heriot-Watt and Loughborough universities, is the first research to illustrate how much poverty across all age groups costs the public purse.

Read More (

When presented with the same figures, social scientists are likely to caution that the quality of a conclusion is only as good as the quality of the data, whereas computer scientists — often called data scientists — are likely to warn against perfection standing in the way of information.

Both of these groups can pursue the growing field of data science, and how they approach their work and cooperation can bring out the best of these two perspectives, or create environments of ambiguity or animosity in the global development industry.

Read More (Devex)

Economic and social divergence between London and the North of England continues to grow, according to new research from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and University of Manchester.

The research put to the test a statement by Cities Minister Greg Clark in January 2015 that such was the revival of northern cities to date that the "picture of the north-south divide pulling apart was certainly true in the previous decade…in this decade it is changing. North and south are now pulling in the same direction, which is upwards."

Read More (Science Daily)

In the tense atmosphere since the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the publication of the government’s new hate crime action plan has come at a crucial time.

The number of hate crimes reported to police has soared in the month since the referendum and there is increased anxiety among many minority groups in the UK.

Read More (The Conversation)

Entrepreneurs often struggle to capture lightning in a bottle by trying to create a product today that anticipates tomorrow’s trends.

But are the bulk of these entrepreneurs not looking far enough ahead?

Read More (Forbes)

Each time the Olympic and Paralympic Games come around, a small minority of nations tend to do well. On average, only 25% of competing nations at the Olympics will win a gold medal – and they’re pretty much the same ones year in, year out.

Intrigued, we dug into data spanning back to 1948 – derived from our colleagues at Gracenote Sport – to unravel how different countries approach sport, and how that affects their chances of Olympic success.

Read More (The Conversation)

When it comes to the subject of intelligence, which today includes behavioural genetics research into “g (a measure of intelligence commonly used as a variable in research in this area) and cognitive ability, the nature-nurture debate becomes that much more heated.

There is a growing body of research that suggests intelligence is a highly heritable and polygenic trait, meaning that there are many genes that predict intelligence, each with a small effect size.

Read More (University of Cambridge)

Finally, things are moving. Internationally, last year’s Paris accord was a remarkable statement of government concern over climate change. Nationally and locally, individuals, organizations, and industries have been mobilizing to do their part.

It’s been a long time coming, considering how long the climate signal has been visible.

Read More (Huffington Post)

We’ll soon learn more about the life and motivations of the Nice truck driver.

But scholarly debates within the social sciences about radicalization and security politics won’t be resolved soon

Read More (Washington Post)

The last couple weeks has caused quite a stir in British politics. Theresa May’s baffling decision to dissolve the Department of Energy and Climate Change has driven environmental groups into a state of panic as they ponder what on earth is going to happen to Britain’s beautiful landscape and fresh clean air.

Last year fracking was a hot topic after the introduction of a new planning guidance that not only sped up the fracking planning process, but enabled Government to overrule local councils that decide against it.

Read More (Huffington Post)

The annual statistics relating to scientific procedures performed on living animals are published today.

The data will be pored over by policymakers, industry associations, animal protection groups and members of the public to identify the increases or decreases, across procedures, and over species.

Read More (Times Higher)

We have all heard complaints that young people are spending too much time online and not enough time in the “real world” – with studies showing that nearly three quarters of 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK have a social media profile and spend an average of 19 hours a week online.

More worrying, perhaps, than the amount of time spent online, are the findings that suggest social media use can actually influence users' personality and character.

Read More (The Conversation)

When it comes to the environment, it’s hardly unusual for us to say one thing and do another. We may profess, when asked, that we care about recycling, pollution, climate change or wasting energy. We may have access to plenty of information about the environmental consequences of our actions. Yet often we fail to change how we act.

Social science has for many years been interested in this phenomenon, which researchers have called the “value-action gap”.

Read More (City Metric)

A report published today by Save the Children highlights the scale of the gender gap in literacy and language development before children begin school, and the consequences for subsequent literacy attainment.

It was informed by a University of Bristol study, Understanding the Gender Gap in Literacy and Language Development, which was commissioned by Save the Children to explain the gender gaps in literacy attainment and language development in the Foundation Stage profile at age five, and their consequences for key stage tests at 11 years.

Read More (University of Bristol)

How would you feel if, by living with your partner, you lost your financial independence and were obliged to ask him (or her) for money?

What if you had children but your partner was not your children's father?

Read More (

Concerns have been raised over yesterday’s departmental reorganisation that will split up responsibility for universities and research, while Theresa May’s focus on an “industrial strategy” for the UK could also have implications for universities and academics.

Research will be overseen by the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), while the Department for Education will take on responsibility for higher education.

Read More (THE)

I love numbers. They allow us to get a sense of magnitude, to measure change, to put claims in context.

But despite their bold and confident exterior, numbers are delicate things and that’s why it upsets me when they are abused.

Read More (The Guardian)

Social media sites obstruct children's moral development, say parents.

More than half of UK parents think popular social media sites hamper their children's moral development, according to a poll commissioned by researchers at the University of Birmingham.

Read More (Science Daily)

Everyone has a story like this by now, but here’s mine: I went downtown to my small-town main street and found dozens of people outside, walking around, chatting with each other, laughing, and having an all-around good time.

In many places, this is probably a more or less routine scene. But in my small upstate New York town, this simply doesn’t happen.

Read More (Gameranx)

A new survey claims that the UK’s decision to quit the EU has led to catastrophic consequences for science, as British researchers are now viewed as financial risks and consequently forced to leave EU-funded projects and step down as leaders from studies.

The research was gathered confidentially by the UK’s Russell Group universities – 24 elite institutions across the UK – and commissioned by The Guardian.

Read More (Russia Today)

A NYU Steinhardt study finds a startling scarcity of children’s books in low-income neighborhoods in Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

The lack of children’s books was even more pronounced in areas with higher concentrations of poverty, according to the findings published online in the journal Urban Education.

Read More (NYU)

Outdoor learning can have a significant and positive impact on children’s quality of life but needs to be introduced more formally into global school curricula in order for its potential benefits to be fully realised, a new report suggests.

Student Outcomes and Natural Schooling has been produced by Plymouth University and Western Sydney University, following a conference organised in collaboration with the University of East London and Natural England, and with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Read More (Plymouth University)

Eeminent scientists appear to have learned little about opposition to GM crops over the last 20 years.

Social science research suggests they are misinformed and their approach is misguided.

Read More (The Conversation)

At this time of political turmoil, who to believe, back or vote for is more confusing than ever.

Now experts have discovered it may simply be boredom that’s responsible for a widening of political views among voters.

Read More (Daily Mail)

The report was so “seismic” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s word — that Lyndon Johnson’s administration released it on the Fourth of July weekend, 1966, hoping it would not be noticed.

But the Coleman report did disturb various dogmatic slumbers and vested interests.

Read More (Japan Times)

Even the best social science experiments are bit contrived and false, necessarily so.

The notorious – yes, I think that is the right word – one that was conducted in the 1960s that turned hippies into sadists, inflicting pain on their fellow psychology students just for the fun of it, springs to mind.

Read More (The Independent)

In January, NPR's news assistant Max Nesterak made a resolution to quit smoking.

He was given three things to do based on social science research: write a public service announcement, get a support network, and put money budgeted for cigarettes into a savings account.

Read More (NPR)

Big data is a term we hear being bandied about more and more.

Indeed, data is growing exponentially.

Read More (The Guardian)

Young people in the United Kingdom were shocked and dismayed when the Brexit vote came in last week.

The youth — by a large margin — supported remaining in the European Union. Many of their parents and grandparents did not.

Read More (Vox)

In social science theory, referendums are supposed to make people feel happier. But for reasons that go beyond political divisions, Brexit is making many Britons everywhere glum.

Well outside the strongholds that voted to remain, we’re seeing angry, violent outbursts from certain leave voters and expressions of regret and sadness from others. Why is that?

Read More (The Guardian)

The worst thing about Brexit is a key reason Brexit gained so much support: opposition to immigration. Advocates for the UK leaving the European Union were not shy about pointing to opposition to immigration as a key to their success.

Nigel Farage captured some of that spirit by declaring “This is a victory for ordinary people, for good people, for decent people.”

Read More (Quartz)

England's players failed at Euro 2016 because of a lack of team direction and clear instruction, a leading psychologist believes.

Professor Cary Cooper also fears the team could be saddled with some heavy mental baggage following their humiliating loss to Iceland.

Read More (Daily Mail)

A leading scientist has said UK science will suffer unless any post-Brexit agreement allows the free movement of people.

Prof Sir Paul Nurse said the country's research was facing its biggest threat in living memory.

Read More (BBC)

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 (

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 (

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 (

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.

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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)