Social Science in the News

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

In 2015, computer scientists, criminologists and legal academics joined forces to form the Cambridge Cybercrime Centre, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Their aim is to help governments, businesses and ordinary users to construct better defences.

Read More (University of Cambridge)

Read More (The Conversation)

For most of history, the majority of people were so busy trying to survive, they didn't worry all that much about how happy they were.

That's probably still true for most of the 2.8 billion people who live on less than $2 a day.

Read More (Mother Nature Network)

he study of psychology is facing a crisis. A lot of research doesn’t show the same results when the experiment is repeated, and it is critical we address this problem.

But the Research Excellence Framework has led to a research culture which is suffocating attempts to stabilise psychology in particular, and science in general.

Read More (The Guardian)

As the news media cover the turbulent 2016 presidential election, there’s been considerable debate around how much emphasis they should put on inaccurate or potentially offensive statements made by candidates.

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that while those who support Donald Trump are divided in their views on whether journalists should highlight statements that many may find offensive, supporters of both candidates overwhelmingly say the news media should draw attention to claims that are inaccurate.

Read More (Pew Research Center)

The increasingly sophisticated ability of political consultants to identify and target persuadable voters is playing out on the doorsteps and in the mailboxes of nearly 300,000 voters here in southeastern Pennsylvania.

The super PAC of the liberal group League of Conservation Voters said last month that it would be knocking on voters’ doors in Montgomery and Delaware counties, in the Philadelphia suburbs that are a battleground in the contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

Read More (Wall Street Journal)

The annual frenzy of responses from higher education institutions to the release of the “big three” higher education rankings which include the QS, Association of Research World Universities and most recently The Times Higher Education World University Rankings is winding up.

Top ranked institutions send out press releases celebrating their world classness, and institutions that don’t make the cut decry methodological flaws and simplistic comparisons

Read More (Social Science Space)

Donald Trump has formally apologized. Both in video, and in person on the debate stage Sunday night.

Yet in the eyes of many, he stands unforgiven. A man forever condemned by his past. Is that fair?

Read More (Psychology Today)

Support for a universal basic income – the payment of a regular and guaranteed income to a country’s citizens as of right – is beginning to gather pace. Trials are being planned in several countries while Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator is to test a scheme in California.

In the UK, the idea is backed by the Green Party and the SNP, is being seriously examined by the Labour Party, and has support from the Royal Society of Arts and the pro-market think-tank, the Adam Smith Institute.

Read More (LSE British Politics and Policy Blog)

The “big data” revolution has already transformed fields such as biology, astronomy and physics, but its impact has been much more patchy in the social sciences.

To explore why this might be, the University of Essex has teamed up with Sage Publishing to produce a Sage white paper titled Who Is Doing Computational Social Science?: Trends in Big Data Research.

Read More (Times Higher Education)

Artificial intelligence has the potential to fundamentally alter how we live and work but government lacks any sort of coherent strategy for responding to the social and ethical dilemmas posed by the rise of intelligent machines.

It's for that reason a 'Commission on Artificial Intelligence' should be established at the Alan Turing Institute to examine the social, ethical and legal implications of the rapid recent developments in AI and potential developments in future, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has declared.

Read More (ZDNet)

In the hard sciences, there’s abundant evidence of progress, though the progress is often not from superstition to science but from bad science to better science. The “science” of human behavior, however, represents something else entirely.

Social scientists have long sought to explain human behavior and optimize the human experience without regard to faith, or in open opposition to faith.

Read More (New York Post)

Casual sex, hookups or one-night stands: whatever you call it, more than half of us will have sex with someone we barely know or don’t expect to date in the future.

We’re most likely to do this at university, where up to 80% of undergraduates have hookups.

Read More (The Guardian)

By now, most of you likely are receiving those energy efficiency reports in the mail from your local utility company — the ones with the colorful bar graphs that show you how your energy use stacks up against your neighbors. This isn’t an idle “FYI’’ exercise, but a carefully designed strategy aimed at encouraging you to cut back on the power.

The approach is grounded in social science research, based on the belief that if you find out your neighbors are doing the right thing, you will want to do the right thing too.

Read More (Popular Science)

A recent study of 82,000 graduates has found that students in the humanities and the social sciences often have more stable careers than their peers.

Earnings from more lucrative fields, such as computer science, were found to be more vulnerable to shifts in the economy.

Read More (The Brock Press)

Ms Rudd was a banker.

She should know the value of robust evidence and reliable statistics. That is the only basis for policy.

Read More (The Guardian)

Can we truly trust computers in ‘high-stakes’ applications such as robotic surgery, terrorism detection and driverless cars?

Have the internet and social media driven an explosion in the number of conspiracy theories around the world? And how can we protect ourselves the increasingly ingenious cybercriminals?

Read More (University of Cambridge)

The influx of young brides presents Germany with a dilemma: whether to protect the girls by separating or preserving these marriages.

The girls—predominantly from Syria, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan—come from a wide range of unions.

Read More (Vice)

Corbyn’s re-election signals a profound departure from the party’s recent past.

If his initial victory could be chalked up to a mere protest vote, another landslide triumph shows the PLP that there is an increasing public appetite for a progressive alternative.

Read More (The Conversation)

The Muslim world in North Africa, the Middle East, and West Asia has entered a period of crisis and failure. Millions of people have emigrated from this world to the West.

They brought their old faith, culture, and habits of life with them—and the receiving countries were too morally enfeebled to impose change upon them. Those receiving countries have lost faith in their old religions, and in their own nationhoods.

Read More (The Atlantic)

Government programs — like Social Security, the earned-income tax credit and food stamps — have kept tens of millions from sinking into poverty year after year.

But a main driver behind the impressive 1.2 percentage point decline in the poverty rate, the largest annual drop since 1999, was that the economy finally hit a tipping point after years of steady, if lukewarm, improvement.

Read More (New York Times)

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)