Social Science in the News

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

Joy might appear to be my counsellor or my life coach, but the conversation I'm having is actually with a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to track emotions and provide mental health support - all through Facebook Messenger.

Welcome to healthcare in the digital age, where smartphone owners have access to their very own doctors and therapists at the touch of a button.

Read More (BBC)

Scientists are increasingly recognizing a moral imperative to collaborate with the communities they study, and the practical benefits that result.

Autism researchers are joining this movement, partnering with people on the spectrum and their families to better address their priorities.

Read More (Spectrum News)

Sometimes we look at social change as a grand idea where we visualise change in global categories of climate and class.

Such a social science is often deceptive.

Read More (Daily Mail)

Imminent developments such as self-driving vehicles, 5G and virtual reality will require a radical shift in the way our networks perform and how they are maintained.

An ambitious £5 million research-business partnership led by BT, aims to create the next generation of converged digital infrastructure (NG-CDI) by developing the technologies and methods required for super-resilient, data-driven networks of the future.

Read More (University of Bristol)

Jack Grieve, a linguist at Birmingham University, uses Twitter to study regional patterns in English.

Those who think Twitter is only good for being rude about others are dead wrong

Read More (The Economist)

Britain’s recent general election has been the first step towards a long-overdue public debate on the social consequences of austerity and growing socio-economic inequality.

Social attitudes in the country appear to have shifted, and the longstanding dominance of the Conservative Party, in politics and public discourse, might be slowly coming to an end.

Read More (Social Science Space)

Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber are the authors of “The Enigma of Reason,” a new book from Harvard University Press.

Their arguments about human reasoning have potentially profound implications for how we understand the ways human beings think and argue, and for the social sciences.

Read More (Washington Post)

Previously, most social science was based on little more than informed guesswork given the messiness of the world and the imperfections of underlying data.

The dangers of confusing correlation and causation have been much discussed.

Read More (Financial Times)

The cost of higher education is rising perilously.

At the start of the last academic year, maintenance grants (for poorer students) were replaced with maintenance loans.

Read More (The Guardian)

Over the past decade, most researchers have trended away from climate doomsdayism.

They cite research suggesting that people respond better to hopeful messages, not fatalistic ones; and they meticulously fact-check public descriptions of global warming, as watchful for unsupported exaggeration as they are for climate-change denial.

Read More (The Atlantic)

The word "millennial" has become synonymous with the young - but evidence suggests that they are starting to reject it.

According to new research three quarters of under-30s say they do not feel the term represents them and more than a third say they don't even know what it means.

Read More (The Telegraph)

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and lobby group TheCityUK published a blueprint for transforming the UK's financial sector post-Brexit on Thursday.

The report recommends a combination of regulatory, industrial, and governmental changes to enable post-Brexit growth.

Read More (Business Insider)

With billions of users and hundreds of billions of tweets and posts every year, social media has brought big data to social science.

It has also opened an unprecedented opportunity to use artificial intelligence (AI) to glean meaning from the mass of human communications, psychologist Martin Seligman has recognized.

Read More (Sciencemag)

The surprising results of the 2017 election were strongly related to both age and education, with university students one of most heavily Labour-leaning groups.

According to YouGov’s national data, some 64% of students voted for the Labour party compared to only 19% for the Conservatives.

Read More (The Conversation)

On the fourth floor of London’s 1 Victoria Street, a science-based start-up is in the throes of being born. Under the watchful eye of Sir Mark Walport, its CEO-designate, and Rebecca Endean, its strategy director, a twenty-strong team of BEIS officials and secondees from existing funding agencies are hard at work translating part three of the freshly-minted Higher Education & Research Act into operational reality.

In April 2018, this high-stakes venture opens for business, and by 2020 it is projected to have a turnover of £8 billion a year. In return, it promises nothing less than a transformation in the UK’s research and innovation performance.

Read More (Wonkhe)

The June general election in the UK has put student finance squarely back on the political agenda. The Labour Party’s election promise to abolish tuition fees proved popular with young voters, presumably particularly with young students and graduates.

At a time when political debate is normally dominated by the concerns of older voters, Jeremy Corbyn is seeking to address issues that concern the younger electorate.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

A new research project led by academics at the University of Sheffield will examine potential sustainable solutions to the ongoing crisis within the UK’s social care system.

With an ageing population, shortages of staff in home and residential care, and growing reliance on unpaid carers, the question of how to resource and deliver social care is a critical issue facing society today.

Read More (Care Appointments)

Starting on July 1, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) will no longer give ministers and officials a sneak peek at its statistics before they are made public.

Known as “pre-release access”, this pernicious practice gives the government the chance to spin the numbers before anyone else has even seen them.

Read More (The Conversation)

Britain’s vote to leave the EU was the result of widespread anti-immigration sentiment, rather than a wider dissatisfaction with politics, according to a major survey of social attitudes in the UK.

Findings from the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey published on Wednesday show Brexit was the result of widespread concern over the numbers of people coming to the UK – millions of whom have done so under the EU’s freedom of movement rules in recent years.

Read More (The Independent)

Wacky job titles aren’t new.

Google has employed a Captain of Moonshots since around 2010. Astro Teller – his real name – currently holds the post and heads up research and development. In another universe, he’d just be “head of research and development”.

Read More (The Conversation)

You know those police dramas, where the detective stares at a clue for ages before suddenly realising he was looking in the wrong place and missing the real story?

I experienced just such a moment while pondering those remarks by John McDonnell at Glastonbury.

Read More (The Times)

The need for decisive action to tackle online extremism is clear.

Four terrorist attacks in four months have been accompanied by a rapid growth of extremist content online, and the internet is now a major hub for radicalisation. Facebook’s initiative to support groups working to challenge extremist narratives is a welcome step (a whole-of-society approach to pushing extremists to the margins of cyberspace is important), but it is no substitute for effective governance.

Read More (City AM)

Social media can be an invaluable source of information for police when managing major disruptive events, new research from Cardiff University has shown.

An analysis of data taken from the London riots in 2011 showed that computer systems could automatically scan through Twitter and detect serious incidents, such as shops being broken in to and cars being set alight, before they were reported to the Metropolitan Police Service.

Read More (Science Daily)

About three million EU citizens living in the UK would be allowed to stay after Brexit, Theresa May has proposed.

A new "UK settled status" would grant EU migrants who had lived in the UK for five years rights to stay and access health, education and other benefits.

Read More (BBC)

The results of the 2017 teaching excellence framework (TEF) have been released, with more than 130 UK universities and other higher education institutions being awarded gold, silver or bronze ratings for the quality of their teaching.

The TEF is a government-backed assessment of undergraduate teaching quality across all higher education institutions in England, which also includes some institutions in Scotland and Wales (with others opting not to take part).

Read More (Times Higher Education)

In his forthcoming book, The Case Against Education, economist Bryan Caplan argues that most education does not really add human capital or skills commensurate with its time or cost.

It is instead a signalling mechanism where prospective employees must jump through hoops to advertise their innate intelligence and self–discipline to employers.

Read More (Spectator)

Whilst there has been much debate on the ethics of using social media posts in research, a comprehensive search of studies from around the globe only identified 11 that have explored the views of social media users on employing such research methods, and as few as six which considered the views of researchers.

Attitudes from social media users varied according to the studies, from people stating that such research is essential, to those strongly against their posts being used in this context.

Read More (University of York)

police commissioner has suggested that civilians with gun licences could be allowed to use private weapons to defend their community against terrorists, in comments that have been rejected by a senior officer.

Alison Hernandez, the police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, was at odds with her own force by saying "let's officially have a look at that" when a caller suggested the idea during a radio phone-in.

Read More (The Telegraph)

This has been a strange election. First, it was ruled out; then it was called.

There was meant to be a landslide for the Conservatives; instead, we will end up with fewer Conservative MPs. The campaign itself was supposed to prove Jeremy Corbyn was inept; yet he has done better than previous Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Government talk about an economy that “works for all” skims over how that can be achieved. It rarely means “for all regions”, since the UK’s social and economic structure is not evenly spread across the country.

Neither is its distribution of research funding. The “invest in excellence” mantra is a logic that works better for researchers than for the regions. It is time for excellence to be tempered with merit.

Read More (The Guardian)

Alexander Peysakhovich is technically a behavioral economist, but he bristles a bit at being defined that narrowly.

He's a scientist in Facebook's artificial intelligence research lab, as well as a prolific scholar, having posted five papers in 2016 alone.

Read More (Pacific Standard)

A new pilot project, designed by a Cambridge researcher and supported by the Nature family of journals, will evaluate the value of sharing the code behind published research.

For years, scientists have discussed whether and how to share data from painstaking research and costly experiments.

Read More (University of Cambridge)

The cost of childcare can be crippling for families, with an average part-time nursery place now costing up to £6,000 a year.

So what can the next Westminster government, along with the devolved powers in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Stormont, do to solve the crisis?

Read More (BBC)

Universities should encourage their academics to patent rather than publish their research so that it has the greatest impact on society, according to a university vice-president.

Paul Feigin, vice-president for strategic projects at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, said that, while the “traditional model of disseminating knowledge is by publishing papers”, investors were not interested in innovations that were already in the public domain and that higher education institutions must instead “set up facilities on campus to encourage faculty to commercialise their research”.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

The Conservatives have used “sleight of hand” to justify grammar school expansion plans in their party manifesto, a senior academic has claimed. According to the election manifesto, credible research shows “slightly more children from ordinary working class families attend selective schools as a percentage of the school intake compared to non-selection schools”.

The statement has been called out as “false”, however, as the data cited itself is selective and does not fairly represent all socio-economic groups.

Read More (The Independent)

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have all announced commitments for NHS spending in their manifestos.

However, the amounts, timing and periods covered by these pledges vary by party. How do their plans for health spending in England really compare and what are the implications once the costs of demographic change are accounted for?

Read More (IFS)

If you took Psychology 101 in college, you probably had to enroll in an experiment to fulfill a course requirement or to get extra credit. Students are the usual subjects in social science research — made to play games, fill out questionnaires, look at pictures and otherwise provide data points for their professors’ investigations into human behavior, cognition and perception.

But who gets to decide whether the experimental protocol — what subjects are asked to do and disclose — is appropriate and ethical

Read More (The New York Times)

New research shows how reducing carbon emissions can prevent billions of people from being exposed to unheard-of changes in climate in the coming decades.

The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, emphasises the human dimension of how unusual a warmer climate would appear to people living in different regions.

Read More (

UK scientists worried about how Brexit will affect their funding received a boost this week, when the country's three main national parties pledged long-term targets to raise research spending.

The announcements came in party manifestos unveiled ahead of national elections in June.

Read More (Nature)

Azerbaijan is undergoing a protracted economic crisis, which its authoritarian Aliyev regime is having difficulty tackling.

When entrenched cronyism, corruption and nepotism are business as usual, does hard work and hard study count for anything?

Read More (Open Democracy)

The spread of false information has always been with us, but it is something we face every day in the digital age.

At the core of the problem of misinformation is confirmation bias – we tend to seize on information that confirms our own view of the world, ignoring anything that doesn’t - and thus polarisation.

Read More (Eyewitness News)

Should PhD supervisors publish with their students? Should PhD students include their supervisors as co-authors on articles emanating from their PhD projects?

To many academics, the answer seems, self-evidently, yes. But some – especially, in our experience, in the social sciences – remain adamantly unconvinced.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Measurements at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory showed that the concentration of heat-trapping CO2 in the atmosphere had exceeded 410 parts per million.

Some might be thinking this: Since rising levels of greenhouse gases are causing global warming, and myriad climate changes like melting ice sheets and glaciers, then this really was big news story.

Read More (Discover)

The sixth graders at Newton Bateman, a public elementary school here with a classic red brick facade, know the Google drill.

In a social-science class last year, the students each grabbed a Google-powered laptop.

Read More (The New York Times)

Table football, ping pong and hammocks are no substitute for job security or work satisfaction and actually annoy many staff, a leading academic has warned.

A new study by the storage and removals firm Kiwi Movers suggests a backlash against quirky office furniture, with a quarter of staff finding them annoying and only 14 per cent liking them.

Read More (iNews)

Is the selfie culture coming into serious academic research?

Or is it a valid way of using first-hand experience?

Read More (BBC)

New social science research shows a correlation between illegal gold mining and the spread of malaria.

We explore why this might be the case.

Read More (NPR)

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a former research assistant of mine, would not strike most people as a revolutionary.

Yet in his new book “Everybody Lies,” he argues persuasively for a mutiny in social science.

Read More (Bloomberg)

Citizens receiving a basic monthly income as part of a radical Finnish pilot scheme have seen a reduction in their stress levels, an official leading the trial has said.

The first of its kind in Europe, the scheme sees 2,000 people receive 560 euros (£473) every month for two years.

Read More (The Independent)

In attempting to reduce human rights abuses, both academics and practitioners focus on two mechanisms that can, at least at times, lead to respect for human rights.

First, when social norms change, individuals may come to see themselves as human rights compliers or respecters and may come to view some government practices as improper. This is the logic of appropriateness. Second, legal rules, when enforced, can impose costly sanctions on those who violate human rights. This is the logic of consequences.

Read More (Open Democracy)

A person of true culture, with a steady vision of the ideal of the good society, would probably loathe the notion of spin, find himself appalled by the pressure exerted upon him by special interests, be nauseated by the corruption of his colleagues who enrich themselves while claiming to be wily for the public good.

Enmeshed in the everyday cut and thrust of contemporary politics, a cultured man or woman would likely spend a fair amount of his or her time squirming.

Read More (Weekly Standard)

In her first statement as Prime Minister, Theresa May sympathised with those ‘ordinary’ families who ‘just about manage’, with mortgages, the cost of living, and job insecurity, recognising these families’ struggle for control over their lives. In this way, the ‘jams’ became the new ‘squeezed middle’.

There is no doubt that ‘jams’ and ‘the squeezed middle’ are rhetorical devices, but this doesn’t mean we can dismiss them – or the experiences of the low-to-middle income families they represent.

Read More (Discover Society)

We all like to think we are in charge of the decisions we make.

Yet anyone who reads up on social science, or listens to the Hidden Brain podcast, knows there are subconscious factors influencing our decisions.

Read More (Forbes)

Studies show that people who spend more time on social media sites feel more socially isolated than those who don't.

This might be because of a disconnect between our online lives and our real ones.

Read More (NPR)

Researchers will today begin a three-year project to design housing for refugee camps in extreme climates where temperatures range from 45C to -10C.

The international team behind the Healthy Housing for the Displaced project, led by Bath University, aim to improve living conditions for refugees by creating low-cost and easy-to-construct housing.

Read More (The Guardian)

Politics has always been vicious. “War without bloodshed,” Chairman Mao called it, but Theresa May has seen a chance for a political bloodletting at least, calling a snap election in June that promises to significantly increase the Conservatives’ parliamentary majority and could rout Labour altogether.

If the polls are correct this time, the UK general election will continue the trend of a resurgent Right, which has also emerged victorious from the bloody battlefields of Brexit and Trump.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Netflix’s new talk show, “Bill Nye Saves the World,” debuted the night before people around the world joined together to demonstrate and March for Science.

Many have lauded the timing and relevance of the show, featuring the famous “Science Guy” as its host, because it aims to myth-bust and debunk anti-scientific claims in an alternative-fact era.

Read More (San Francisco Chronicle)

Awkward people are neither better, nor worse than anyone else — they simply see the world differently and have to exert more effort to master social graces that come intuitively to others.

If you’re awkward, then your sharply focused attention can get stuck or your intensity becomes difficult to corral.

Read More (Time)

Theresa May is under mounting pressure to remove foreign students from the immigration figures after MPs warned that her refusal to do so is damaging Britain’s world class universities.

In a report published today, the cross-party Education Select Committee calls for overseas students to be recorded “under a separate classification and not be counted against the overall [migration] limit.”

Read More (Independent)

The idea of analysing culture seems irritatingly vague and slippery to anybody who normally uses a spreadsheet to study the world.

More surprisingly, even some academic anthropologists seem ambivalent about the trend.

Read More (Financial Times)

For decades, many social scientists have promoted the view that conservatives are particularly closed-minded—that people on the political Right are more tribal in their thinking patterns, more vulnerable to propaganda that confirms their pre-existing ideas, and more skeptical of inconvenient facts.

But a new paper reviewing dozens of relevant studies on this topic finds that this view is not supported (indeed, one might wonder if this consensus is not itself a product of liberal bias in the social sciences).

Read More (The American Interest)

When Per Espen Stoknes looked at polls going back to 1989 assessing the level of public concern about climate change in 39 different countries, he found a surprising pattern in the data.

“Incredibly enough, it shows that the more certain the science becomes, the less concern we find in richer Western democracies,” he said. “How can it be that with increasing level of urgency and certainty in the science, people get less concerned?”

Read More (Vox)

A group of academics believes it has found a means by which to quantify how successful, or unsuccessful, Britain's final Brexit deal is, once talks conclude in March 2019.

Writing in a new paper, Professor Hans Blokland, alongside Sarah Coughlan, Nils Wadt and Patrick Sullivan, analysed another recent paper released by policy group The UK in a Changing Europe titled "A Successful Brexit: Four Economic Tests" — before coming to their own conclusions about what outcomes are needed to consider Brexit to be a success.

Read More (UK Business Insider)

In recent weeks, tensions over European immigration and liberal values have culminated in a direct attack on the Central European University in Budapest.

The university is now facing closure after a series of questionable higher education “reforms” by the Hungarian government.

Read More (The Conversation)

Children who spend more time social networking online feel less happy with a number of different aspects of their lives, according to new research by the University of Sheffield.

The research by academics in the University’s Department of Economics, presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference this week, shows that the more time children spend chatting on social networks such as Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram, the less happy they feel about their school work, their school attended, their appearance, their family and their life overall. But they do feel happier about their friendships.

Read More (University of Sheffield)

New social science research looks at how to get more low-income students into college.

Read More (NPR)

When Hungary’s government passed a law last week which was effectively intended to shut down Budapest’s Central European University, it surely anticipated that there would be a backlash.

It probably did not anticipate mass demonstrations, or senior European politicians threatening to suspend Hungary’s membership of the European Union.

Read More (Washington Post)

“Latino immigration is generally associated with decrease in homicide victimization,” Purdue University sociologist Michael Light writes in the journal Social Science Research.

His analysis finds this trend applies to “whites, blacks, and Hispanics, in both established and non-established immigrant destinations.”

Read More (Pacific Standard)

Artificial intelligence (AI) will bring about huge innovation to several sectors of the economy, including health care, predicts Aaron Levie, the co-founder and CEO of enterprise cloud company Box.

Levie, who launched Box in 2005, believes artificial intelligence will create the most innovation for businesses.

Read More (CNBC)

He’s been called “punctuation’s answer to Banksy”. A self-styled grammar vigilante who spends his nights surreptitiously correcting apostrophes on shop signs and billboards.

The general consensus is that he’s a modern-day hero – a mysterious crusader against the declining standards of English. But his exploits represent an altogether darker reality.

Read More (The Conversation)

With an ageing population, a rise in long-term conditions, growing health inequalities, and a lack of political will to ensure that funding is increased in line with demand, the UK's National Health Service has been brought to breaking point.

In this context, there is an urgent need to put in place policies that reduce healthcare need and make much better use of the resources available.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Essays will be marked down unless they use 'gender-sensitive language', students at a British university have been told.

Many universities are already advising students and staff not to use 'gender-offensive' terms such as 'he' or 'she' to describe people that could be either male or female.

Read More (The Daily Mail)

A study led by an Engineering Doctorate student at the University of Surrey has found that the carbon footprint of crime over the last 20 years has fallen.

The study, published in the British Journal of Criminology, applied estimates of the carbon footprint of criminal offences to police-recorded crime and self-reported victimisation survey data, to estimate the carbon footprint of crime in England and Wales between 1995 and 2015.

Read More (Science Daily)

The accusation that academia is disproportionately left-wing and liberal is not a new one.

Nor is the main thrust of the claim, in a report by the Adam Smith Institute, contentious.

Read More (The Conversation)

The concept of love at first sight is the subject of sonnets and songs dating back centuries, and remains a popular trope in rom-coms and on television.

But what about “friendship at first sight?”

Read More (Paste Magazine)

People exposed to entertainment television are more likely to vote for populist politicians according to a new study co-authored by an economist at Queen Mary University of London.

The researchers investigated the political impact of entertainment television in Italy over the last 30 years during the phased introduction of Silvio Berlusconi's commercial TV network Mediaset

Read More (

Growing up in a hungry household in the first couple of years of life can hurt how well a child performs in school years later, according to a new study.

An estimated 13.1 million children live in homes with insufficient food, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read More (NPR)

The government’s focus has been on making a success of a small number of big cities – but there are 36.1 million people who don’t live in them, on the outside looking in.

It’s time to change that.

Read More (The Guardian)

Policy makers throughout the world, guided by behavioral scientists, are devising ways to steer people toward decisions deemed to be in their best interests.

These simple interventions don’t force, teach or openly encourage anyone to do anything. Instead, they nudge, exploiting for good — at least from the policy makers’ perspective — mental tendencies that can sometimes lead us astray.

Read More (Science News)

Abundant social science evidence on everything from global warming denial to moon landing conspiracy theories shows that simply giving people more information won't make them change their minds when they have strong preexisting beliefs.

If a person has gone so far as to convince themselves that the Earth is flat, bucking all basic scientific evidence to the contrary, that means they would be convinced that I'm lying to them.

Read More (Mashable)

Data is an enabler.

It is essential to understand that this is not just about driving the commercial gains that are often shouted about.

Read More (The Herald)

Despite the perception of poor job prospects, Tony Donohue, head of education and social policy at employers’ group Ibec, says arts, humanities and social science degrees are highly valued by employers.

“With arts graduates, it may take them longer to get there, but when they do, they reach senior positions within organisations,” he says.

Read More (The Irish Times)

Depression makes it hard to focus.

It makes it hard to think about long-term goals, or to concentrate on what you’re doing in the moment.

Read More (Paste Magazine)

Michael Gove had a point, up to a point. People don’t trust all experts the way they once did, and can be suspicious of their role in public policy.

Experts themselves bear some responsibility for this.

Read More (The Telegraph)

The modern notion of scientists as disinterested, non-partisan figures arose (perhaps counterintuitively) during the Cold War, according to many historians.

It’s hard to imagine a period during which the overlaps between science and politics were clearer.

Read More (Pacific Standard)

For months after the United Kingdom voted last June to leave the European Union, many British scientists clung to hopes of a “soft Brexit,” which would not cut them off from EU funding and collaborators.

But Prime Minister Theresa May, who is expected to trigger the 2-year process of exiting the European Union in coming days, has signaled the break will be sharp.

Read More (Science Mag)

The rise of fake news has dominated the world of politics since the last U.S. election cycle.

But fake news is not at all new in the world of science, notes University of Wisconsin-Madison Life Sciences Communication Professor Dominique Brossard.

Read More (EurekAlert!)

Country rankings in international education tests – such as PISA and TIMSS – are often used to compare and contrast education systems across a range of countries.

But it isn’t always an even playing field.

Read More (The Conversation)

Deadly viruses that cause panic and epidemics are becoming more common because of deforestation the depletion of natural habitats for wild animals.

The deadly viruses themselves aren't increasing, it’s their exposure to humans that has increased. As humans trek further into the forests and environments where viruses like Ebola, Zika, and HIV are common among bats, rodents, and other animals, the higher the chances are that those viruses will make the jump to infecting humans, according to NPR.

Read More (International Business Tribune)

It may seem that new relationships are entirely fuelled by dreams and hopes for a perfect future. But the past can have a powerful influence too – often more so than we would like to admit.

The “emotional baggage” that we bring from the past can mean that we sometimes pick a partner who’s not quite right, make bad relationship decisions or find it difficult to fully devote ourselves to the person we are with.

Read More (The Conversation)

In early February, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he would not be making any changes to Canada’s electoral rules.

This might be a non-story, if Trudeau and his supporters hadn’t pledged 1,813 times to reform the system, according to an opposition party’s count.

Read More (Washington Post)

Last week the NHS released its latest monthly statistics on the number of patients facing delays in their transfers to care services. They make for grim reading.

They show that higher demand for adult social care and pressure on local authority social care budgets is seriously affecting NHS performance, and threatens the overall sustainability of the health and social care systems.

Read More (Public Finance)

A 2014 Pew Research Center study also indicates that a majority of people in all of the forty-four countries polled described the gap between rich and poor as a problem for their country.

Economic inequalities in income and wealth, social inequalities in health, education and access to welfare services, gender and racial inequalities, cultural and religious discrimination, barriers to political participation --- all are main instances of inequalities.

Read More (The Financial Express)

In today's digital age, they are relied upon by many people looking to find the best buy. But internet reviews can be wildly misleading, a study has found, because they are usually created by people who exaggerate how good a product is.

Psychologist Dr Mícheál de Barra looked at more than 1,600 online reviews of health products on website Amazon, then compared them with the scientific results of clinical trials.

Read More (The Daily Mail)

To determine if new vaccines are effective, researchers often closely monitor trends in disease rates for a city or community. However, these observations can be confounded by changes in the health or behavior of the population, so a better “control” comparison is needed.

One social science comparison technique called “the synthetic control method” presents a unique way to address this problem: combine the information from several possible control communities to create a superior aggregated control built from many possible controls.

Read More (Ars Technica)

Research has shown that students' learning and cognitive performance can be influenced by emotional reactions to learning, like enjoyment, anxiety, and boredom. Most studies on this topic have been done in labs.

Now a new longitudinal study out of Germany investigates how students' emotions in a school context relate to their achievement.

Read More (

At an EU summit in Malta on February 3, Theresa May announced Britain would help support the resettlement of refugees who arrive in Europe to Latin America and Asia.

Yet while it has been presented as a humanitarian endeavour, the plan preserves relationships of exploitation and inequality between countries.

Read More (The Conversation)

The level of tax in Britain has reached the highest level as proportion of national income for 30 years, a respected think tank has found.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that taxes are on course to rise by £17billion over the course of this Parliament, taking that the proportion of national income raised in taxes to 37 per cent for the first time since 1986.

Read More (The Telegraph)

A legally regulated cannabis market would result in more effective strategies aimed at helping drug users to access the right support and guidance, say researchers at the University of York.

In a new report published by the drug policy think tank, Volteface, the team, which included researchers at the University of Bournemouth, demonstrated that there is a disparity in how cannabis is prioritised by drug and alcohol providers, wider community services, local authority commissioners, and public health bodies, which has impeded the quality of support and guidance available.

Read More (University of York)

If you want to win an Oscar it is best to be an American actor in a film that portrays American culture.

That is the conclusion of a paper published today, Sunday 5 February, in the British Journal of Psychology by Dr Niklas K. Steffens from the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland and his fellow authors.

Read More (Science Daily)