Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pew Report: Three-Fourths of Hispanics Say Their Community Needs a Leader

From the overview:

Three-quarters of Latinos living in the U.S. say that their community needs a national leader, but about the same share either cannot name one or don’t believe one exists, according to a new national survey of 5,103 Latino adults conducted by the Pew Research Center from May 24 to July 28, 2013.

When asked in an open-ended question to name the person they consider “the most important Hispanic leader in the country today,” 62% say they don’t know and an additional 9% say “no one.”
Source: Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project

Download full pdf report: Three-Fourths of Hispanics Say Their Community Needs a Leader 

Download pdf questionnaire for Three-Fourths of Hispanics Say Their Community Needs a Leader

Talent on the Sidelines: Excellence Gaps and America's Persistent Talent Underclass

Online Article:

The circle of high-achieving American students is becoming a preserve for the white and well-off, with potentially severe consequences for the country’s promise of equal opportunity, according to a new report by UConn professor Jonathan Plucker and colleagues at two other universities.
“Talent on the Sidelines: Excellence Gaps and the Persistence of America’s Permanent Talent Underclass” examines the underreported problem of students from particular racial and socioeconomic backgrounds dominating the ranks of those who perform best on national assessment tests. While a great deal of attention and resources have been focused on the achievement gap among students, which measures basic proficiency in subjects like math and reading, almost none have been devoted to the “excellence gap” at the highest achievement levels.
Source: University of Connecticut

Download: Talent on the Sidelines: Excellence Gaps and America's Persistent Talent Underclass
Link to download site with state by state reports

What Are We Not Doing When We're Online

The Internet has radically transformed the way we live our lives. The net changes in consumer surplus and economic activity, however, are difficult to measure because some online activities, such as obtaining news, are new ways of doing old activities while new activities, like social media, have an opportunity cost in terms of activities crowded out. This paper uses data from the American Time Use Survey from 2003 – 2011 to estimate the crowdout effects of leisure time spent online. That data show that time spent online and the share of the population engaged in online activities has been increasing steadily. I find that, on the margin, each minute of online leisure time is correlated with 0.29 fewer minutes on all other types of leisure, with about half of that coming from time spent watching TV and video, 0.05 minutes from (offline) socializing, 0.04 minutes from relaxing and thinking, and the balance from time spent at parties, attending cultural events, and listening to the radio. Each minute of online leisure is also correlated with 0.27 fewer minutes working, 0.12 fewer minutes sleeping, 0.10 fewer minutes in travel time, 0.07 fewer minutes in household activities, and 0.06 fewer minutes in educational activities.
Source: National Bureau for Economic Research

Download: What Are We Not Doing When We're Online

Migration and Distributive Politics in an Indigenous Community: Oportunidades, Educational Surveillance and Migration Patterns in La Gloria

Conditional Cash Transfers are a type of welfare program in which recipients receive funds contingent on certain actions or involvement in activities. Governments and multilateral banks frame conditional Cash Transfers as an effective poverty alleviation strategy that provokes greater civic engagement in the Global South. Mexico’s Conditional Cash Transfer program, Oportunidades, includes an educational requirement for children. Studies of Oportunidades focus primarily on its impact on student enrollment, but lack research on the quality of education, retention and employment outcomes, and the impact on emigration. Drawing on three years of ethnographic research in a rural indigenous community in the Mexican state of Chiapas, I examine how teachers utilize Oportunidades conditional requirements as a form of surveillance in the classroom. My findings reveal how emigration in La Gloria and its impact on student retention increases the vulnerability of teachers’ employment. These pressures unintentionally help shape how teachers perceive the program – as an intervention to an ongoing culture of migration. Finally, I discuss the impact that surveillance has in shaping educational and migratory aspirations among students and employment outcomes.
Source:  Program on International Migration, UCLA International Institute, UCLA [via eScholarship Repository

Download pdf publication:  Migration and Distributive Politics in an Indigenous Community: Oportunidades, Educational Surveillance and Migration Patterns in La Gloria

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast-Food Industry

Executive Summary

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of enrollments in America's major public benefits programs are from working families. But many of them work in jobs that pay wages so low that their paychecks do not generate enough income to provide for life's basic necessities. Low wages paid by employers in the fast-food industry create especially acute problems for the families of workers in this industry. Median pay for core front-line fast-food jobs is $8.69 an hour, with many jobs paying at or near the minimum wage. Benefits are also scarce for front-line fast-food workers; an estimated 87 percent do not receive health benefits through their employer. The combination of low wages and benefits, often coupled with part-time employment, means that many of the families of fast-food workers must rely on taxpayer-funded safety net programs to make ends meet.

This report estimates the public cost of low-wage jobs in the fast-food industry. Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the other public benefits programs discussed in this report provide a vital support system for millions of Americans working in the United States' service industries, including fast food. We analyze public program utilization by working families and estimate total average annual public benefit expenditures on the families of front-line fast-food workers for the years 2007–2011.1 For this analysis we focus on jobs held by core, front-line fast-food workers, defined as nonmanagerial workers who work at least 11 hours per week for 27 or more weeks per year.
Source: Center for Labor Research and Education (UC Berkeley)

Download full pdf report Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast-Food Industry

Policies for Inclusive Urbanisation in China

Urbanisation in China has long been held back by various restrictions on land and internal migration but has taken off since the 1990s, as these impediments started to be gradually relaxed. People have moved in large numbers to richer cities, where productivity is higher and has increased further thanks to agglomeration effects. In the process, the rural-urban income differential has narrowed. Urbanisation also entails costs, however, notably in the form of congestion, all the more so as public transport provision has not kept up. Demand for living space is set to continue to increase as living standards improve, putting pressure on land prices. This can be offset by relaxing the very stringent restrictions on the use of agricultural land for building. For migrants to better integrate in the cities where they work, their access and that of their families to education, health and other social services must continue to improve, in particular via further changes to the registration system, coupled with more market-based rules on land ownership and use.
Source: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Download pdf of Policies for Inclusive Urbanisation in China 

Tablet and E-reader Ownership

From the Overview:

The number of Americans ages 16 and older who own tablet computers has grown to 35%, and the share who have e-reading devices like Kindles and Nooks has grown to 24%. Overall, the number of people who have a tablet or an e-book reader among those 16 and older now stands at 43%.

Up from 25% last year, more than half of those in households earning $75,000 or more now have tablets. Up from 19% last year, 38% of those in upper-income households now have e-readers.
 Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

Download full pdf publication: Tablet and E-reader Ownership
Download pdf of survey questions

Survey: Tea Party’s Image Turns More Negative

From the Overview:

The Tea Party is less popular than ever, with even many Republicans now viewing the movement negatively. Overall, nearly half of the public (49%) has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 30% have a favorable opinion.

The balance of opinion toward the Tea Party has turned more negative since June, when 37% viewed it favorably and 45% had an unfavorable opinion. And the Tea Party’s image is much more negative today than it was three years ago, shortly after it emerged as a conservative protest movement against Barack Obama’s policies on health care and the economy.
Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

Download full pdf report: Tea Party Image Survey
Download topline questionnaire

Method of recording brain activity could lead to 'mind-reading' devices

From the Press Release:
Using a novel method, the researchers collected the first solid evidence that the pattern of brain activity seen in someone performing a mathematical exercise under experimentally controlled conditions is very similar to that observed when the person engages in quantitative thought in the course of daily life. (Stanford School of Medicine)
Abstract of study:

Human cognition is traditionally studied in experimental conditions wherein confounding complexities of the natural environment are intentionally eliminated. Thus, it remains unknown how a brain region involved in a particular experimental condition is engaged in natural conditions. Here we use electrocorticography to address this uncertainty in three participants implanted with intracranial electrodes and identify activations of neuronal populations within the intraparietal sulcus region during an experimental arithmetic condition. In a subsequent analysis, we report that the same intraparietal sulcus neural populations are activated when participants, engaged in social conversations, refer to objects with numerical content. Our prototype approach provides a means for both exploring human brain dynamics as they unfold in complex social settings and reconstructing natural experiences from recorded brain signals.
Study published in Nature Communications as Numerical processing in the human parietal cortex during experimental and natural conditions. (link)

Download pdf of  Numerical processing in the human parietal cortex during experimental and natural conditions.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Veterans With Gulf War Illness Show Brain Changes Linked to Memory Deficits

From the Press Release:
New research illuminates definitive brain alterations in troops with Gulf War Illness (GWI) thought to result from the exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, including sarin gas, during the first Persian Gulf War.

“More than 250,000 troops, or approximately 25% of those deployed during the first Persian Gulf War, have been diagnosed with Gulf War Illness (GWI). Although medical professionals have recognized the chronic and often disabling illness for almost two decades, brain changes that uniquely identify GWI have been elusive until now,” explained researcher Bart Rypma, principal investigator at the Center for Brain Health at The University of Texas at Dallas.

This study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, is novel in that it confirms GWI deficits in working memory, a critical cognitive function that enables short-term retention of information for higher-level thinking ability. In addition, brain alterations revealed in the study show a consistent pattern representing a neurobiological marker that could potentially be used to positively identify GWI.

Source: APA

Link to full press release: Veterans With Gulf War Illness Show Brain Changes Linked to Memory Deficits
Link to abstract for study published in Clinical Psychological Science (free to all)
Download pdf article: Central Executive Dysfunction and Deferred Prefrontal Processing in Veterans With Gulf War Illness (May require academic affiliation or subscription)

Alternatives to Peer Review in Research Project Funding

Peer review is often considered the gold standard for reviewing research proposals. However, it is not always the best methodology for every research funding process. Public and private funders that support research as wide-ranging as basic science, defence technology and social science use a diverse set of strategies to advance knowledge in their respective fields. This report highlights a range of approaches that offer alternatives to, or modifications of, traditional peer review — alternatives that address many of the shortcomings in peer review effectiveness and efficiency. The appropriateness of these different approaches will depend on the funder's organisational structure and mission, the type of research they wish to fund, as well as short- and long-term financial constraints.

We hope that the information presented in this pack of cards will inspire experimentation amongst research funders by showing how the research funding process can be changed, and give funders the confidence to try novel methods by explaining where and how similar approaches have been used previously. We encourage funders to be as inquisitive about their funding systems as they are about the research they support and make changes in ways that can be subsequently evaluated, for instance using randomised controlled trials. Such an approach would allow researchers to learn more about the effects of different methods of funding and, over time, to improve their knowledge of the most effective ways to support research.

Source: RAND Corporation

Download pdf report: Alternatives to Peer Review in Research Project Funding 

The Cost of Racial Bias in Economic Decisions

From Press Release

When financial gain depends on cooperation, we might expect that people would put aside their differences and focus on the bottom line. But new research suggests that people’s racial biases make them more likely to leave money on the table when a windfall is not split evenly between groups.

The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

 “It has been suggested that race bias in economic decisions may not occur in a market where discrimination is costly, but these findings provide the first evidence that this assumption is false,” explain psychological scientists Jennifer Kubota and Elizabeth Phelps of New York University. “Our work suggests that after offers are on the table, people perceive the fairness of those offers differently — even when they are objectively identical — based on race.”

The research was inspired by the debt ceiling debates that raged on in the summer of 2011.

“Many members of both the House and Senate seemed willing to incur costs that would hurt their own constituents in order to vote along political lines,” say Kubota and Phelps. “The debate led us to wonder: Are people willing to punish members of another group when they perceive their behavior as unfair, even when exacting that punishment comes at a personal cost?”

The researchers decided that an important first step in understanding this phenomenon, given race-based financial disparities in the United States, would be to examine interracial economic decisions.

Source: APA

Link to full APA Press Release: The Cost of Racial Bias in Economic Decisions

Link to abstract for study published in Psychological Science: The Price of Racial BiasIntergroup Negotiations in the Ultimatum Game

Download pdf of The Price of Racial BiasIntergroup Negotiations in the Ultimatum Game (academic affiliation / subscription may be required)

Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach


We analyzed 700 million words, phrases, and topic instances collected from the Facebook messages of 75,000 volunteers, who also took standard personality tests, and found striking variations in language with personality, gender, and age. In our open-vocabulary technique, the data itself drives a comprehensive exploration of language that distinguishes people, finding connections that are not captured with traditional closed-vocabulary word-category analyses. Our analyses shed new light on psychosocial processes yielding results that are face valid (e.g., subjects living in high elevations talk about the mountains), tie in with other research (e.g., neurotic people disproportionately use the phrase ‘sick of’ and the word ‘depressed’), suggest new hypotheses (e.g., an active life implies emotional stability), and give detailed insights (males use the possessive ‘my’ when mentioning their ‘wife’ or ‘girlfriend’ more often than females use ‘my’ with ‘husband’ or 'boyfriend’). To date, this represents the largest study, by an order of magnitude, of language and personality.

Source: PLoS ONE 8(9): e73791. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073791
Link to Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach
Download pdf of Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach

Monday, October 14, 2013

Science Special Issue: Communication in Science: Pressures and Predators

Science's Special Issue on Communication in Science: Pressures and Predators includes free news and reviews on the lack of scrutiny at open-access journals, the rarity of published negative studies, and publishing sensitive data.

Entire special issue available online


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Smithsonian's interactive before-and-after maps of American cities

From the Discovery News Blog:

In an elegant cartographic union of old and new, Smithsonian's interactive before-and-after maps of American cities let users peer into the past and see how it compares with the present. The magazine dug through Cartography Associates President David Rumsey's collection of over 150,000 maps and selected six vintage renderings of the following cities: Chicago, Denver Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York and San Francisco.
Images of the antique maps were overlaid onto satellite images from today. Users navigate a spyglass around the maps, offering a peephole into what metropolitan landscapes looked like hundreds of years ago.
Check out: What Did San Francisco Look Like in the Mid-1800s?

Higher Education Pays: But a Lot More for Some Graduates Than for Others

Higher education is one of the most important investments that people make, and most students make this investment because they want a better chance to land a good career and higher earnings. But as they enter the labor market, some graduates earn far more than others. Prospective students need sound information about where their educational choices are likely to lead.
 Source: American Institutes for Research

Download full pdf report: Higher Education Pays: But a Lot More for Some Graduates Than for Others

Gender Roles and Expectations Any Changes Online?

One consequence of the advent of cyber communication is that increasing numbers of people go online to ask for, obtain, and presumably act upon advice dispensed by unknown peers. Just as advice seekers may not have access to information about the identities, ideologies, and other personal characteristics of advice givers, advice givers are equally ignorant about their interlocutors except for the bits of demographic information that the latter may offer freely. In the present study, that information concerns sex. As the sex of the advice seeker may be the only, or the predominant, contextual variable at hand, it is expected that that identifier will guide advice givers in formulating their advice. The aim of this project is to investigate whether and how the sex of advice givers and receivers affects the type of advice, through the empirical analysis of a corpus of web-based Spanish language forums on personal relationship difficulties. The data revealed that, in the absence of individuating information beyond that implicit in the advice request, internalized gender expectations along the lines of agency and communality are the sources from which advice givers draw to guide their counsel. This is despite the trend in discursive practices used in formulating advice, suggesting greater language convergence across sexes
 Source: SAGE Open

Download pdf Gender Roles and Expectations Any Changes Online?

Three Paradoxes of Big Data

Big data is all the rage. Its proponents tout the use of sophisticated analytics to mine large data sets for insight as the solution to many of our society’s problems. These big data evangelists insist that data-driven decisionmaking can now give us better predictions in areas ranging from college admissions to dating to hiring to medicine to national security and crime prevention. But much of the rhetoric of big data contains no meaningful analysis of its potential perils, only the promise. We don’t deny that big data holds substantial potential for the future, and that large dataset analysis has important uses today. But we would like to sound a cautionary note and pause to consider big data’s potential more critically. In particular, we want to highlight three paradoxes in the current rhetoric about big data to help move us toward a more complete understanding of the big data picture. First, while big data pervasively collects all manner of private information, the operations of big data itself are almost entirely shrouded in legal and commercial secrecy. We call this the Transparency Paradox. Second, though big data evangelists talk in terms of miraculous outcomes, this rhetoric ignores the fact that big data seeks to identify at the expense of individual and collective identity. We call this the Identity Paradox. And third, the rhetoric of big data is characterized by its power to transform society, but big data has power effects of its own, which privilege large government and corporate entities at the expense of ordinary individuals. We call this the Power Paradox. Recognizing the paradoxes of big data, which show its perils alongside its potential, will help us to better understand this revolution. It may also allow us to craft solutions to produce a revolution that will be as good as its evangelists predict. 

Source: Stanford Law Review Online via Social Science Resource Network

Download full pdf of Three Paradoxes of Big Data

How Peer Pressure Shapes Consensus, Leadership, and Innovations in Social Groups

What is the effect of the combined direct and indirect social influences—peer pressure (PP)—on a social group's collective decisions? We present a model that captures PP as a function of the socio-cultural distance between individuals in a social group. Using this model and empirical data from 15 real-world social networks we found that the PP level determines how fast a social group reaches consensus. More importantly, the levels of PP determine the leaders who can achieve full control of their social groups. PP can overcome barriers imposed upon a consensus by the existence of tightly connected communities with local leaders or the existence of leaders with poor cohesiveness of opinions. A moderate level of PP is also necessary to explain the rate at which innovations diffuse through a variety of social groups.
Source: Nature, Scientific Reports

Download pdf of "How Peer Pressure Shapes Consensus, Leadership, and Innovations in Social Groups"

Ethnicity and suicide attempt: analysis in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia


Evidence is mixed as to whether White Europeans are at a higher risk for suicide attempts or completions compared to other ethnic groups. The present analysis assessed whether risk for suicide attempt was associated with White European ethnicity in 907 subjects with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Source: BMC Psychiatry

 Download: Ethnicity and suicide attempt: analysis in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants' Social Media Postings


Job applicants and incumbents often use social media for personal communications allowing for direct observation of their social communications “unfiltered” for employer consumption. As such, these data offer a glimpse of employees in settings free from the impression management pressures present during evaluations conducted for applicant screening and research purposes. This study investigated whether job applicants' (N=175) personality characteristics are reflected in the content of their social media postings. Participant self-reported social media content related to (a) photos and text-based references to alcohol and drug use and (b) criticisms of superiors and peers (so-called “badmouthing” behavior) were compared to traditional personality assessments. Results indicated that extraverted candidates were prone to postings related to alcohol and drugs. Those low in agreeableness were particularly likely to engage in online badmouthing behaviors. Evidence concerning the relationships between conscientiousness and the outcomes of interest was mixed.
Source: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Download pdf publication:  Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants' Social Media Postings

Higher Education and the Opportunity Gap

From the introduction:

America faces an opportunity gap. Those born in the bottom ranks have difficulty moving up. Although the United States has long thought of itself as a meritocracy, a place where anyone who gets an education and works hard can make it, the facts tell a somewhat different story. Children born into the top fifth of the income distribution have about twice as much of a chance of becoming middle class or better in their adult years as those born into the bottom fifth (Isaacs, Sawhill, & Haskins, 2008). One way that lower-income children can beat the odds is by getting a college degree. Those who complete four-year degrees have a much better chance of becoming middle class than those who don’t — although still not as good of a chance as their more affluent peers. But the even bigger problem is that few actually manage to get the degree. Moreover, the link between parental income and college-going has increased in recent decades (Bailey & Dynarski, 2011). In short, higher education is not the kind of mobility-enhancing vehicle that it could be.
 Source: Brookings Institution

Read "Higher Education and the Opportunity Gap" online

Intergenerational Mobility among Immigrants and their Descendents

From the abstract:

...provides an overview of the intergenerational progress of several major immigrant groups in the United States. Drawing on the most recent issues of the CPS, we provide estimates of poverty rates, educational attainment, and occupational attainment among the native born children of immigrants and compare these outcomes to similar estimates of the foreign born with the 1980 Census, allowing for a comparison across generations. We find improvement from the first to second generation for nearly every origin group. To more directly explore the transmission of socioeconomic status among immigrants, we directly link the parental and child outcomes of immigrants in Los Angeles, estimating the relationship between parents’ and children’s educational and occupational outcomes. We find considerable variation in the relationship between parent and child outcomes by origin group, although all immigrants show higher rates of intergenerational mobility than the children of the native born. Traditional assimilation models, as well as the alternative working class and selectivity hypotheses we pose here, do not fully explain these inter-ethnic differences.
Source: Program on International Migration, UCLA International Institute, UCLA

Download pdf publication: Intergenerational Mobility among Immigrants and their Descendents

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-2013

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-2013 powered by Thomson Reuters are the only global university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.
 Source: Times Higher Education

Link to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Report: Freedom on the Net 2013

From the description:

Freedom on the Net 2013 is the fourth report in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 60 countries that occurred between May 2012 and April 2013. Over 60 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the digital media, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources, among other research activities. This edition's findings indicate that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period. Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove this overall decline in internet freedom in the past year. Nonetheless, Freedom on the Net 2013 also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.
Source: Freedom House

Download pdf Report: Freedom on the Net 2013
Also Available: Internet Freedom Map

Pew Report: Latinos’ Views of Illegal Immigration’s Impact on Their Community Improve

Hispanics’ views of the impact of unauthorized immigration on the U.S. Hispanic community have grown more positive since 2010, according to a new nationwide survey of 5,103 Hispanic adults by the Pew Research Center.

Today, 45% of Hispanic adults say the impact of unauthorized immigration on Hispanics already living in the U.S. is positive, up 16 percentage points from 2010 when 29% said the same.

Views of unauthorized immigration’s impact have improved more among foreign-born Hispanics than native-born Hispanics. According to the new survey, half (53%) of Hispanic immigrants say the impact of unauthorized immigration on the U.S. Hispanic community is positive, up 19 percentage points from 2010 when 34% said the same. This compares with a 12 percentage point increase in the share of native-born Hispanics who say the same—from 24% in 2010 to 35% in 2013.
Source: Pew Research Center
Download full pdf report:  Pew Report: Latinos’ Views of Illegal Immigration’s Impact on Their Community Improve

The Maturing of the MOOC : introduction to the topic, a literature review, timeline, and statistics

The Maturing of the MOOC:
This survey of MOOC and ODL literature aims to capture the state of knowledge and opinion about MOOCs and ODL, how they are evolving, and to identify issues that are important, whether consensual or controversial.
The bibliography contains over 100 citations and is global in terms of scope and sources.

Source: Department for Business Innovation & Skills (U.K.)

Download pdf publication: The Maturing of the MOOC 

Cheque Cashing Places: Preying on Areas with High Crime

With the closure of mainstream bank branches in low-income neighbourhoods, cheque cashing places (CCPs) grew exponentially in the past decade. CCP users tend to be those in need of quick cash or who frequently live from pay cheque to pay cheque. CCPs appear to target low-income vulnerable consumersthe so-called “unbanked”. Such individuals are more likely to reside in high-crime areas. We hypothesized that CCPs are more prevalent in neighbourhoods with high crime rates, and that this might be a function of strategic marketing by CCPs, rather than merely an indicator of economic disparity. We explored the relation between the density of CCPs in each census tract in Toronto and its association with both any crime and also violent crime. The findings indicate that CCPs are more abundant in areas of high crime, and especially, violent crime, and this appears to be independent of measures of material deprivation and residential instability. While the CCP industry has strategically focused on customers of low socioeconomic status, it is plausible that they also focus on high-crime areas as well.
Source:  Sociology Mind

Download pdf: Cheque Cashing Places: Preying on Areas with High Crime

Psychological and Physiological Responses following Repeated Peer Death.

From the abstract:

Undergraduates at a university in the United States were exposed – directly and indirectly – to 14 peer deaths during one academic year. We examined how individual and social factors were associated with psychological (e.g., anxiety, depression, somatization) and physiological (i.e., cortisol) distress responses following this unexpected and repeated experience with loss.

 Source: PLoS One

Download Psychological and Physiological Responses following Repeated Peer Death.

Eye Contact May Make People More Resistant to Persuasion

From the press release: research shows that eye contact may actually make people more resistant to persuasion, especially when they already disagree.
Popular belief holds that eye contact increases the success of persuasive communication, and prior research suggests that speakers who direct their gaze more toward their listeners are perceived as more persuasive. In contrast, we demonstrate that more eye contact between the listener and speaker during persuasive communication predicts less attitude change in the direction advocated. In Study 1, participants freely watched videos of speakers expressing various views on controversial sociopolitical issues. Greater direct gaze at the speaker’s eyes was associated with less attitude change in the direction advocated by the speaker. In Study 2, we instructed participants to look at either the eyes or the mouths of speakers presenting arguments counter to participants’ own attitudes. Intentionally maintaining direct eye contact led to less persuasion than did gazing at the mouth. These findings suggest that efforts at increasing eye contact may be counterproductive across a variety of persuasion contexts.
Source:  Association for Psychological Science

Link to online press release
Download pdf article from Psychological Science (academic institution or subscription required)

Determining who responds better to a computer- vs. human-delivered physical activity intervention

From the Abstract:

Little research has explored who responds better to an automated vs. human advisor for health behaviors in general, and for physical activity (PA) promotion in particular. The purpose of this study was to explore baseline factors (i.e., demographics, motivation, interpersonal style, and external resources) that moderate intervention efficacy delivered by either a human or automated advisor.


International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10(1), 109. doi: Retrieved from: eScholarship Repository:

Download pdf publication: Determining who responds better to a computer- vs. human-delivered physical activity intervention

Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Appropriations Process: FAQs Regarding Potential Legislative Changes and Effects of a Government Shutdown

From the introduction:
The current legislative debate over using the FY2014 appropriations process to defund implementation of the ACA has prompted a number of questions about the law’s core health reform provisions and how their implementation affects federal spending. Questions have also been raised about the legislative actions already taken by lawmakers to defund or otherwise amend the ACA, and about the various legal and procedural considerations arising from the current efforts to use the appropriations process to defund the law. Finally, there is the question of what impact a government shutdown would have on ACA implementation in the event that Congress is unable to reach agreement on FY2014 appropriations legislation. This report, which will be revised and updated to reflect key legislative developments, provides brief answers to these questions.
Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

Download pdf publication:  Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Appropriations Process: FAQs Regarding Potential Legislative Changes and Effects of a Government Shutdown

Women in the labour market - United Kingdom

Women in the labour market - Key Points
  • Rising employment for women and falling employment for men over 40 years
  • Men have consistently higher employment rates than women above the age of 22
  • Employment rates for women lowest in Northern Ireland and London
  • Birmingham has the lowest employment rate among the smaller areas
  • Men with children more likely to work than those without – opposite picture for women
  • The employment rate gap between mothers in a couple and lone mothers smaller for those with older children
  • Men tend to work in the professional occupations associated with higher levels of pay than women
  • Women dominate employment within caring and leisure occupations
  • The number of women working within managerial roles slightly higher than the EU average
  • Female graduates more likely to work in a slightly lower skilled occupation group than men
  • Men make up the majority of workers in the top 10% of earners for all employees but the gap is lower for those under 30
Source: National Office of Statistics (UK)
Download PDF: Women in the labour market - United Kingdom

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2013 : The multiple dimensions of food security

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2013 presents updated estimates of undernourishment and progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and World Food Summit (WFS) hunger targets. The latest assessment shows that further progress has been made towards the 2015 MDG target, which remains within reach for the developing regions as a whole, although marked differences across regions persist and considerable and immediate additional efforts will be needed.

The 2013 report goes beyond measuring food deprivation. It presents a broader suite of indicators that aim to capture the multidimensional nature of food insecurity, its determinants and outcomes. This suite, compiled for every country, allows a more nuanced picture of their food security status, guiding policy-makers in the design and implementation of targeted and effective policy measures that can contribute to the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Drawing on the suite of indicators, the report also examines the diverse experiences of six countries in more detail, finding a mixed picture of progress and setbacks. Together, these country experiences show the importance of social protection and nutrition-enhancing interventions, policies to increase agricultural productivity and rural development, diverse sources of income and long-term commitment to mainstreaming food security and nutrition in public policies and programmes.
Source: United Nations: Food and Agriculture Division

Download The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2013
Food security indicators – download the data