Author Interviews, Education, Pediatrics, Psychological Science, Social Issues / 31.10.2017 Interview with: Angeline Lillard PhD Professor of Psychology University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA What is the background for this study? Response: Montessori education was developed in the first half of the last century, but has been subject to little formal research. Prior research on its outcomes was problematic in using poor control groups, very small samples, demographically limited samples, a single school or classroom, or poor quality Montessori, or data from just a single time point and limited measurements. This study addressed all these issues: it collected data 4 times over 3 years from 141 children, experimental children were in 11 classrooms at 2 high quality Montessori schools at which the control children were waitlisted and admission was done by a randomized lottery, family income ranged from $0-200K, groups were demographically equivalent at the start of the study, and many measures were taken. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, BMJ, Cost of Health Care, Exercise - Fitness, Social Issues / 27.10.2017 Interview with: Dr. Scarlett McNally Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeo Eastbourne D.G.H. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There are vast differences between older people in their abilities and their number of medical conditions. Many people confuse ageing with loss of fitness. Ageing has specific effects (reduction in hearing and skin elasticity for example) but the loss of fitness is not inevitable. Genetics contributes only 20% to diseases. There is abundant evidence that adults who take up physical activity improve their fitness up to the level of someone a decade younger, with improvements in ‘up and go’ times. Physical activity can reduce the severity of most conditions, such as heart disease or the risk of onset or recurrence of many cancers. Inactivity is one of the top four risk factors for most long-term conditions. There is a dose-effect curve. Dementia, disability and frailty can be prevented, reduced or delayed. The need for social care is based on an individual’s abilities; for example, being unable to get to the toilet in time may increase the need for care from twice daily care givers to needing residential care or live-in care, which increases costs five-fold. Hospitals contribute to people reducing their mobility, with the ‘deconditioning syndrome’ of bed rest, with 60% of in-patients reducing their mobility. The total cost of social care in the UK is up to £100 billion, so even modest changes would reduce the cost of social care by several billion pounds a year. (more…)
Author Interviews, OBGYNE, Social Issues / 20.10.2017 Interview with: Jennifer Buher Kane PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology University of California, Irvine 92697-510 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It’s not uncommon for new parents to relocate in search of neighborhoods with better schools, safer streets and healthier, more kid-friendly activities. But our new study found that living in such neighborhoods before a baby is born protects against the risks of poor birth outcomes. Published online this month in SSM – Population Health, the research shows that having highly educated, wealthy neighbors reduces an expectant mother’s risk of delivering a low-weight or preterm baby – health markers that can be associated with neurodevelopmental problems, language disorders, learning disabilities and poor health later in life. Our study is the first to look at how both the level of affluence and disadvantage — two sociologically distinct attributes of neighborhoods — affect newborn health; past studies have only explored the impact of neighborhood disadvantage. Neighborhood disadvantage signals factors such as poverty, unemployment, or underemployment. On the other hand, neighborhood affluence is thought to signal the presence of locally-based community organizations that can meet the needs of all residents – health-related and otherwise – regardless of one’s own socioeconomic resources. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Psychological Science, Social Issues / 11.10.2017 Interview with: Dr. Thekla Morgenroth Preferred pronouns: They/them/their Research Fellow in Social and Organisational Psychology Psychology University of Exeter Washington Singer Laboratories, Exeter UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Risk-taking is often seen as an important trait that leads to economic success - for example when it comes to investing money - and career success. For example, we often hear that leaders need to be willing to take risks. Risk-taking is also strongly associated with masculinity, which leads to the idea that maybe gender differences in economic and career success can be explained by the fact that women are just too risk averse. When you look at the risk-taking literature, it appears that there is support for this idea with many studies showing that men do indeed take more risks than men. Our research questions these ideas. We show that current measures of risk-taking are biased. They focus only on stereotypical "masculine" risk taking behaviors such as betting your money on the outcome of a sporting event or going whitewater rafting, and ignore the many risks that women take, such as going horseback riding or donating a kidney to a family member. When this bias is addressed, gender differences in risk-taking disappear or even reverse. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Social Issues / 09.10.2017 Interview with: Rebecca Horne, MSc, PHEc MSc graduate in Family Sciences from the University of Alberta Professional human ecologist PhD student in Psychology at the University of Toronto Research area in intimate relationships What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although several studies have argued that time, money, and gender are important factors that shape the division of household labour, we know little about how these factors impact housework at different stages of the life course. Specifically, are time, money, and gender-related variables equally important for explaining housework involvement at different life stages? In our study, we compared men’s and women’s housework contributions at different life stages and explored how work hours, income (relative to one’s partner), marital status, raising children, and gender impacted housework at these distinct stages. We drew on data from the Edmonton Transitions Study, which has tracked the school-to-work and adolescence-to-adulthood transitions of nearly 1,000 Canadians for over three decades. We analyzed survey data from participants who had romantic partners during three developmental periods: the transition to adulthood (age 25; assessed in 1992), young adulthood (age 32; assessed in 1999), and midlife (age 43; assessed in 2010). We found that regardless of age or life stage, women performed more housework than men. In addition, lower housework involvement was most reliably predicted by earning a greater share of income and being male at age 25; working longer hours and raising children (for men only) at age 32; and earning a greater share of income, working longer hours, and being male at age 43. Importantly, gender was the strongest predictor of housework responsibility earlier and later in life. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Gender Differences, Mental Health Research, Sexual Health, Social Issues / 03.10.2017 Interview with: Oliver Ferlatte PhD Men's Health Research Program University of British Columbia Vancouver , British Columbia , Canada What is the background for this study? Response: Suicide, like many other health inequities, is unevenly distributed among the population, with marginalized groups being most affected. In Canada, suicide has been found to particularly affect gay and bisexual men, aboriginal people and people living in rural and remote communities. While the populations affected by suicide are not mutually exclusive – for example someone can be a bisexual Aboriginal man living in a remote community – much of the suicide prevention literature tends to treat these groups as such. Moreso, very little attention is given in suicide prevention research to diversity within groups: for example, we know very little about which gay and bisexual men are most at risk of attempting suicide. This situation creates a vacuum of knowledge about suicide among gay and bisexual and deprives us of critical information for the development of effective suicide prevention activities. We therefore investigated in a survey of Canadian gay and bisexual men (Sex Now Survey), which gay and bisexual men are at increased risk of reporting a recent suicide attempt. The large sample of gay and bisexual men with 8493 participants allows for this unique analysis focused on the multiple, intersecting identities of the survey participants. (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Social Issues / 08.09.2017 Interview with: Gili Freedman, PhD Postdoctoral Researcher Dartmouth College What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Social rejection is a common, everyday interpersonal interaction, and most people have been on both ends: being rejected and doing the rejection. There has been a lot of research on how rejection impacts targets (the people being rejected), but we know less about the point of view of the rejector. In this set of studies, we wanted to understand how frequently rejectors include apologies in rejections and what effect apologies have on targets of rejection. Using both college and community samples, we found that approximately 40% of people spontaneously included an apology when trying to reject in a good way. However, rejections with apologies were associated with more hurt feelings and higher levels of aggression than rejections without apologies. In response to viewing rejections with apologies, participants felt obligated to express forgiveness but did not actually feel forgiveness. Taken together, our results indicate that apologies may not be helpful in softening the blow of a social rejection. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Cleveland Clinic, Heart Disease, Social Issues / 30.08.2017 Interview with: Jarrod Dalton PhD Department of Quantitative Health Sciences Cleveland Clinic , Cleveland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Accurate risk assessment is critical for identifying patients who are at high risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. We evaluated the performance of a widely-used risk assessment tool against the socioeconomic position of patients’ neighborhoods of residence. This tool, called the Pooled Cohort Equations Risk Model, or PCERM, was developed in 2013 jointly by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association (ACC/AHA). We found that the PCERM model accurately characterized risk among patients from affluent communities, but performed more poorly among patients from disadvantaged communities. In particular, for these patients, major cardiovascular events occurred at rates that were as much as 2-3 times than predicted from the PCERM model. (more…)
Addiction, Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Social Issues / 23.08.2017 Interview with: Beth Han, MD, PhD, MPH From Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, Maryland National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bethesda, Maryland and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Washington, DC. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Using the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), this is the first study examining the prevalence of overall prescription opioid use in addition to misuse, use disorders, and motivations for misuse in the U.S. adult population. The 2015 NSDUH collected nationally representative data on prescription opioid use, misuse, use disorder, and motivations for misuse among the U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population aged 12 or older. In 2015, NSDUH started to collect data on overall prescription opioid use as well as data on motivations for prescription opioid misuse. This study found that in 2015, 91.8 million (37.8%) U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized adults used prescription opioids, 11.5 million (4.7%) misused them, and 1.9 million (0.8%) had a prescription opioid use disorder. Among adults who used prescription opioids, 12.5% reported misuse and, of those reporting misuse, 16.7% reported a prescription opioid use disorder. The most common reported misuse motivation was to relieve physical pain (63.4%). Misuse and use disorders were most commonly reported in adults who were uninsured, were unemployed, had low income, or had behavioral health problems. Among adults with misuse, 59.9% reported using opioids without a prescription, and 40.8% obtained prescription opioids free from friends or relatives for their most recent misuse. (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Social Issues / 15.08.2017 Interview with: Allison Mueller, A.B.D. Ph.D. Program Department of Psychology University of Illinois at Chicago What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In our study, we explored how people react to public figures who bend the truth. We predicted that people’s own moral conviction for a political issue—their strong and absolute belief that this position is right or wrong, moral or immoral—would cloud their judgments of public figures who lie for that cause. We reasoned that when a strong moral conviction is at stake, the transgressiveness of specific kinds of advocacy for the cause may be trivialized. To test this idea, we first assessed people’s views on a political issue—in this case, whether they supported or opposed federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and the extent to which they viewed the issue as a moral imperative. They were then presented with a political monologue supporting Planned Parenthood that they believed was previously aired over public radio. After reading the monologue, they were randomly assigned to learn that the monologue was deemed true (or false) by several fact-checking organizations. We measured their reactions to hearing this news, including the extent to which they believed the speaker was justified in delivering the monologue and their judgments of the speaker’s moral character. We found that people’s perceptions of the speaker’s transgressive advocacy were uniquely shaped by their own moral conviction for the cause. Although honesty was positively valued by all respondents, transgressive advocacy that served a shared moral (vs. nonmoral) end was more accepted, and advocacy in the service of a nonpreferred end was more condemned, regardless of its truth value.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Occupational Health, Social Issues / 10.08.2017 Interview with: Professor Tarani Chandola Cathie Marsh Institute and Social Statistics University of Manchester Co-director of the National Centre for Research Methods International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society & Health What is the background for this study? Response: The study examined the common perception that “any job is better than no job” to see whether this was true in terms of chronic stress levels. It followed up a group of unemployed adults representative of adults living in the UK, and compared their health and stress levels in terms of those who remained unemployed and those who became re-employed in poor and good quality work. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Pediatrics, Social Issues / 10.08.2017 Interview with: Lead author, Dr Richard Liu, MCRI Ph.D. student and Senior author - Professor David Burgner PhD The Child Health CheckPoint Investigator Group Murdoch Children’s Research Institute The Royal Children’s Hospital Parkville, Victoria, Australia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The socioeconomic gradient in cardiovascular disease is well recognised in adults. The more disadvantaged someone is, the higher their risk of heart attack and stroke. The mechanisms by which this occurs are not well understood, but we know the pathological process underlying this, thickening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, begins very early in life. Our current understanding of the early development of atherosclerosis has previously been limited mainly to autopsy studies. Non-invasive imaging is increasingly being used to examine the early development of atherosclerosis. We wanted to determine if there was an association between socioeconomic disadvantage and the thickness of the carotid artery wall in mid-childhood, which in adults is a proxy for atherosclerosis and indicates higher risk for heart attack and stroke in later life. We analysed both family and neighbourhood socioeconomic position data from 1477 Australian families, which included data on income, education and occupation of parents, as well as the relative socioeconomic status of the immediate neighbourhood. (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Social Issues / 09.08.2017 Interview with: Mirkka Danielsbacka PhD, D.Soc.Sci Senior researcher University of Turku What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Relations between family generations are widely studied in disciplines such as family sociology and demography. However, relations between in-laws are often neglected in family studies of contemporary societies. Especially conflicts have been surprisingly little investigated. We were especially interested in how parenthood is associated with relations to in-laws in a contemporary Western society. Using nationally representative survey data from Finland with over 1,200 respondents, we studied conflicts that spouses reported having with their own parents and their in-laws. Overall, Finns more often reported having had any conflict with their own parents than with their in-laws. Compared to childless couples, couples with children were as likely to report conflicts with their own parents. However, couples with children were more likely to report conflicts with their parents-in-law. Our results took into account how frequently family members were in contact with each other and how emotionally close they felt, as well as other sociodemographic factors. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Social Issues / 07.08.2017 Interview with: Arlene S. Ash, PhD Department of Quantitative Health Sciences University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: State Medicaid programs (and other health care purchasers) often contract with several managed care organizations, each of which agrees to address all health care needs for some of their beneficiaries. Suppose a Medicaid program has $5000 to spend, on average, for each of its 1 million beneficiaries. How much should they pay health plan “A” for the particular 100,000 beneficiaries it enrolls? If some group, such as those who are homeless, is much more expensive to care for than the payment, plans that try to provide good care for many such people will go broke. We describe the model now used by MassHealth to ensure that plans get more money for enrolling patients with greater medical and social needs. In this medical-social model, about 10% of total dollars is allocated by factors other than the medical-morbidity risk score. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Social Issues / 31.07.2017 Interview with: Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D. Clinical Assistant Professor Washington State University Department of Psychology Pullman, WA, 99164-4820 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: One of the most common reasons cannabis users report using cannabis is to cope with stress. In support of this, previous research has shown that acute administration of THC or cannabis dampens affective responses and subjective stress ratings. This has made strains of cannabis popular for use for stress and other ailments with some online outlets, like high thc having reviews such as the og kush strain review to perpective users. However, our study is the first to compare the stress response of sober cannabis users to non-users. More specifically, we randomly assigned 42 non-cannabis users and 40 cannabis users (who abstained from using cannabis for at least 12 hours prior to the study) to either a stress or no stress condition. Participants in the stress condition were required to perform multiple trials of placing their hand in ice water and counting backwards from 2043 by 17s. Each time they made an error they were given negative feedback and told to start again. Further, they were being video recorded and their image was displayed in front of them. Participants who were assigned to the no stress condition were simply required to perform multiple trials of placing their hand in lukewarm water and counting from 1 to 25. They were not given feedback or recorded. Participants were asked to rate their level of stress and to provide a saliva sample, from which the stress hormone cortisol was measured. The results showed that, as expected, non-users in the stress condition had higher cortisol levels and higher self-reported stress than non-users in the no stress condition. In contrast, cannabis users in the stress condition demonstrated the same levels of cortisol as cannabis users in the no stress condition and their increase in self-reported stress was smaller than that of the non-users. (more…)
Author Interviews, Social Issues, Technology / 07.07.2017 Interview with: Leon Sütfeld The Institute of Cognitive Science University of Osnabrück What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Self-driving cars, and especially future fully autonomous cars, pose a number of ethical challenges. One of these challenges is making the "right" decision when it comes to a so-called dilemma situation, in which a collision is unavoidable (or highly probable), but a decision can be made as to which of multiple different collisions to choose. Our study assesses the behavior of human participants in such dilemma situations and evaluates algorithmic models that are trained on this data to make predictions. Our main findings are that in a controlled virtual reality environment, the decisions of humans are fairly consistent and can be well described by simple value-of-life models. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Heart Disease, JAMA, Social Issues / 14.06.2017 Interview with: Yasuhiko Kubota, MD, MPH Visiting Scholar Division of Epidemiology and Community Health School of Public Health University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN What is the background for this study? Response: Educational inequality is one of the most important socioeconomic factors contributing to cardiovascular disease. Since education is usually completed by young adulthood, educational inequality may affect risk of cardiovascular disease early in the life course. We thought it would be useful to calculate the lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease according to educational levels in order to increase public awareness of the importance of education. Thus, our aim was to evaluate the association of educational attainment with cardiovascular disease risk by estimating the lifetime risks of cardiovascular disease using a US. biracial cohort. Furthermore, we also assessed how other important socioeconomic factors were related to the association of educational attainment with lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Social Issues / 09.06.2017 Interview with: Dr. Ayodele Odutayo MD MSc DPhil(pending) Centre For Statistics in Medicine, University of Oxford Resident Physician (PGY1), Post-Doctoral Fellow, Applied Health Research Centre St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previously published studies have reported increasing gaps in life expectancy among adults belonging to different socioeconomic strata and suggested that much of this gap was mediated through behavioural and metabolic risk factors. In this study, we found that from 1999-2014, there was an increasing gap in the control of cardiovascular risk factors between high income adults compared to adults with incomes at or below the poverty line. The proportion of adults at high cardiovascular risk (predicted risk of a cardiovascular event ≥20%), the mean systolic blood pressure and the percentage of current smokers decreased for high income adults but did not change for adults with incomes at or below the poverty line. Notably, the income disparity in these cardiovascular risk factors was not wholly explained by access to health insurance or educational attainment. Trends in the percentage of adults with diabetes and the average total cholesterol level did not vary by income. (more…)
Allergies, Asthma, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Social Issues / 31.05.2017 Interview with: Wanda Phipatanakul, MD, MS Associate Professor of Pediatrics Harvard Medical School Director, Asthma Clinical Research Center Boston Children's Hospital Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Boston, MA 02115 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Observational studies have limitations in their ability to examine disparities in asthma, as these studies have relied on self-reported measures of medication use, asthma diagnosis, severity, outcomes, and access to care. Using data collected from a randomized controlled trial, we found that subjects with lower income had a significantly higher number of asthma treatment failures and asthma exacerbations, independent of race, BMI, education, perceived stress, baseline lung function, hospitalizations, inhaled corticosteroid adherence, inhaled corticosteroid dose, environmental allergen sensitization, and second-hand smoke exposure. (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Social Issues / 18.05.2017 Interview with: Carlota Batres PhD Postdoctoral fellow at Gettysburg College What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The background for this study is that previous research has found that individuals from rural areas prefer heavier women than individuals from urban areas. Several explanations have been proposed to explain these preference differences: media exposure, differing optimal weights for different environments, and urbanization. In this study, we investigated familiarity as a possible explanation by examining participants’ face preferences while also examining the facial characteristics of the actual participants. The main finding of this study is that familiarity appears to be contributing to our facial preferences. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, Social Issues / 10.05.2017 Interview with: Jay L. Zagorsky Center for Human Resource Research The Ohio State University and Patricia K. Smith PhD Department of Social Sciences University of Michigan-Dearborn What is the background for this study? Response: The prevalence of adult obesity in the U.S. has risen substantially, from about 13% in the early 1960s to nearly 38% now.  Obesity is associated with a variety of illnesses and imposes significant costs on individuals and society. Socioeconomic (SES) gradients in health and the prevalence of disease, including obesity, have been documented: health improves and disease prevalence falls as we move up each step of the SES ladder.  Differences in nutrition could help explain these health gradients and Americans commonly think the poor eat fast food more often than those in the middle and upper classes. Policy based on this notion has been proposed.  For example, in 2008 Los Angeles placed a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in poor neighborhoods. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Occupational Health, Social Issues / 07.05.2017 Interview with: Tarani Chandola Professor of Medical Sociology Social Statistics Disciplinary Area of the School of Social Sciences University of Manchester What is the background for this study? Response: We (the authors) were particularly interested in examining evidence for the common perception that people at the top of the occupational hierarchy are the most stressed. And also what happens to people’s stress levels when they retire. We had assumed that people with poorer quality work to have decreased levels of stress when they retired. There have been other studies on this topic before, but none that have used salivary cortisol to measure physiological stress responses. We analysed changes in people’s stress levels before and after retirement, in a follow up study of over 1,000 older workers in the British civil service. Stress levels were measured by taking salivary cortisol samples across the day, from awakening until bedtime. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Social Issues / 03.05.2017 Interview with: Wendy Tan Senior Medical Social Worker Medical Social Work The National Kidney Foundation What is the background for this study? Response: End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients experience significant changes to their daily routine and lifestyle. Their time and attention were often centred solely on their sickness whilst receiving treatment accentuating the employment isolation. This study determined the need for extra support to assist patients adjust (e.g. learning about their psychological wellbeing, change of role and mindset, suitable work conditions and employment support) in returning to work. It also sheds light on how individuals perceive the particular situations they are facing, how they are making sense of their health conditions and the society at large in relations to seeking continued employment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Mineral Metabolism, Nutrition, Social Issues, Transplantation / 25.04.2017 Interview with: Ms. Shifra Mincer Medical Student in the class of 2019 SUNY Downstate Medical School What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Hypophosphatemia is commonly encountered in the post-transplant setting. Early post-transplant hypophosphatemia has been ascribed to excess FGF23 and hyperphosphaturia. Many patients remain hypohosphatemic months or even years after their transplant and the mechanism was assumed to be the same, however, our group recently reported that patients with late post-transplant hypophosphatemia had very little phosphorous in their urine (Wu S, Brar A, Markell, MS. Am J Kidney Dis. 2016,67(5): A18). We hypothesized that they were not eating enough phosphorous to compensate for the acute phosphorous losses they experienced immediately post-transplant. In this study, using both 3-day diet journals and 24-hour diet recall questionnaires, we found that mean intake of phosphorous and protein was barely at the Recommended Daily Allowance, and that despite 70% of the patients using EBT, 30% of those patients still reported concerns regarding food security. Patients who reported that the cost of food influenced their dietary choices ate 43% less protein (average 48,5 gms vs. 85.8 gms) and 29% less phosphorous (average 887 mg vs 1257 mg). When ability to rise from a chair over a 30 second period was evaluated, only patients who expressed food cost concerns were unable to complete the test. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Social Issues / 05.04.2017 Interview with: Madeleine A. Fugère, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology Eastern CT State University Willimantic, Connecticut What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous research has shown that both daughters and their parents rate many traits as more important than physical attractiveness in a potential mate (for daughters), including traits such as respectfulness, honesty, and trustworthiness. Previous research also shows that women rate physical attractiveness as more important in a mate for themselves than parents do in a mate for their daughters. In our research project, we experimentally manipulated the physical attractiveness of male targets (using photographs) and we experimentally manipulated the traits associated with each male target. The trait profiles included the “respectful” trait profile which consisted of the traits respectful, honest, and trustworthy, the “friendly” trait profile which included the traits friendly, dependable, and mature, and the “pleasing” trait profile which contained the traits pleasing disposition, ambitious, and intelligent. We found that both women and their mothers were strongly influenced by the physical attractiveness of the men and preferred the attractive and moderately attractive targets. Both women and their mothers rated the attractive and moderately attractive men most favorably, especially when they were paired with the most positive trait profile (the “respectful” trait profile). However, the unattractive man was never rated more positively than his more attractive counterparts even when he possessed the most favorable trait profile. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Social Issues / 15.03.2017 Interview with: Emily Rauscher PhD Assistant Professor Department of Sociology University of Kansas What is the background for this study? Response: A lot of previous research has identified genotypes that increase sensitivity to context.  Much of this research, however, looks at particular aspects of health and is not able to address the methodological challenges of investigating gene-environment interactions.  To gain a better sense of the potential outcomes that may be susceptible to gene-environment interactions, I examine financial standing in young adulthood.  Testing this type of interaction is challenging because genotype and social environment are not randomly distributed throughout the population. Given this non-random distribution, unobserved confounders (such as parental behaviors, education, ethnicity, or social capital) could influence both parent and child financial standing. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Geriatrics, Karolinski Institute, Social Issues / 14.03.2017 Interview with: Dr. Karin Modig, PhD Institute of Environmental Medicine,Epidemiology Karolinska Institute What is the background for this study? Response: The background to the study was that even though it is established that parents live longer than non-parents the underlying mechanisms are not clear. And it was not known how the association changed with the age of the parents. We hypothesize that if social support is one mechanism – the association between having children and the death risk of parents-non-parents would increase with age of the parents, when health starts to deteriorate and the need of support increases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sexual Health, Social Issues / 09.03.2017 Interview with: Brooke E. Wells, Ph.D. Associate Professor & PhD Program Director Center for Human Sexuality Studies Widener University One University Place Chester, PA 19013 What is the background for this study? Response: It is widely believed that Americans today are more sexually liberated and open than ever before. While research indicates that Americans do indeed have more liberal attitudes about a range of sexual behaviors, Americans are actually reporting fewer sexual partners and higher rates of adult sexual abstinence. But are Americans reporting similar levels of sexual frequency with fewer partners? Our research set out to examine changes over time in sexual frequency to better understand our changing sexual landscape. (more…)
Author Interviews, Social Issues / 09.03.2017 Interview with: Ella Daniel, PhD Department of School Counseling and Special Education Constantiner School of Education Tel Aviv University What is the background for this study? Response: The development of disruptive behavior in early childhood is extremely important, as disruptive behavior starts early in life and behavioral patterns may become stable and resistant to influence later on. Siblings have a high potential to influence each other's behavior, as they spend a considerable amount of time together, are close in age and likely to become role models. However, the role of siblings in disruptive behavior development was mostly studied among adolescents, and hardly among young children. In the current study, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Jenkins and colleagues at the University of Toronto and funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research, we asked parents in some 400 families in and around Toronto, about the behavior of their young children. Both mothers and fathers reported the frequency of disruptive behaviors among their children, including violence, disobedience, destruction of property etc.. At the time of the study, the youngest children in the family were only 18 months of age. They all had an older sibling who was less that 5.5 years of age, and some had additional older siblings, up to four children in a  amily. Using advanced statistical models, we aimed to identify the role of siblings in the development of each child's disruptive behavior over time, taking into account heredity, parenting, social environment and shared history. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Social Issues, Weight Research / 08.03.2017 Interview with: Professor Don Haider-Markel Chair, Department of Political Science University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 66045 What is the background for this study? Response: We have studied causal attributions for conditions and problems in society for some time. We noticed that public debate over obesity had increased and new policy proposals were being proposed to address what was deemed as a growing public health problem. As the salience of the issue increased so too did partisan views on the topic. Based on these observations, we wanted to explore individual beliefs about the causes, or attributions for, obesity. Existing research and theory suggested that Republicans following a conservative philosophy would be more likely to attribute obesity to personal choices, such as eating habits and lack of exercise—in short, putting the locus of control on individuals. Meanwhile liberal leaning Democrats, with a known predisposition to suggest conditions or problems are outside of the control of the individual, would be more likely to attribute obesity to either genetic or other biological factors, or the broader context of widely available low-cost high-fat food sources. Additionally, we know that individuals tend to make attributions that are self-serving. In other words, people tend to make attributions that put themselves in a positive light. Thus, personal weight should factor into obesity attributions. Here we expected that overweight people would be more likely to make attributions that removed personal blame, such as pointing to a genetic cause. People closer to an ideal weight would, on the other hand, be more likely to attribute weight-level to personal choices. (more…)