Archive for December, 2010

The Obama administration sparks a renewed interest in climate change policy

December 29, 2010

The Western Climate Initiative

From State and Local Government Review

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the greatest challenges the world will face in the coming decades. Renewed interest from the Obama administration along with continuing regional and local actions have raised awareness among US constituents and their representatives concerning this issue. Policymakers at all levels are still debating and experimenting with different policy and regulatory approaches to address this challenge. This article recognizes much can be learned from the efforts that states and regions are making in addressing greenhouse gas reductions. It also focuses on the larger effort under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). The aim is to continue to strive for a reduction in gas emissions and develop newer, cleaner more efficient multisourced energy alternatives.


Why people trying to quit smoking should avoid watching Mad Men: The influence of on-screen smoking cues

December 23, 2010

Attentional bias in smokers: exposure to dynamic smoking cues in contemporary movies


From Journal of Psychopharmacology 

Tobacco use is still prevalent in films, this study explores how people respond to on-screen smoking images by examining eye movement of smokers and non-smokers while watching a movie clip, using eye-tracking technology. This research reveals that smokers have an attentional bias for smoking related pictorial cues.  Smokers notice the images quicker and gaze longer. It is suggested these observations should be taken into account by therapies designed help stop people smoking, in order to increase success rates and to prevent relapses.


Why are ‘chavvy’ external illuminated Christmas displays embraced by the working class?

December 22, 2010

Illuminations, class identities and the contested landscapes of Christmas

From Sociology

In the last two decades, illuminating the outside of a house with multi-colored lights has become a popular British Christmas practice. Whereas in the US these illuminations typically cover large middle-class homes, in Britain they have been largely adopted within working-class neighborhoods.  This article investigates how and why such displays have developed class associations.  It considers the negative media representations of displays and the working-class stereotype.  Analysing the motivations of displayers, and  exploring how the illuminations are imbued with idealistic notions about conviviality and generosity, this study emphasises conflicting cultural values.


Love ballads leave women more open to romance

December 21, 2010

‘Love is in the air’: Effects of songs with romantic lyrics on compliance with a courtship request

From Psychology of Music

If you’re having trouble getting a date, French researchers suggest that picking the right soundtrack could improve the odds. There’s plenty of research indicating that the media affects our behavior but this study specifically tested the power of romantic lyrics on 18-20 year old single females by exposing them to romantic background music in a waiting area before meeting men as part of the experiment. Researchers discovered that romantic love songs did make a difference. Women were more prepared to give their number to an ‘average’ young man after listening to romantic background music.


Could economics solve the prison crisis?

December 16, 2010

From Probation Journal

This study suggests that economists have a unique opportunity to help solve the prison crisis by bringing sophisticated economic modelling techniques to bear on the problem. Over the last decade prison numbers risen sharply in England and Wales and are set to rise further. As of January 2010 the prison population was calculated as 83,378. The conclusions support a move to devolving the budgets for custodials to groups of local authorities and suggest that Justice Reinvestment is an approach likely to lead to more effective criminal justice policies compared to incarceration for reducing re-offending.

To date, the government has made only limited investment in commissioning robust impact studies of criminal justice policies and programmes. A new approach is possible, driven not only by moral or social concerns about actual and perceived crime rates and a high prison population, but also informed by economic analysis and argument. The current economic climate makes this position hard to ignore. The authors urge the government to invest in more impact studies of key criminal justice interventions, particularly prison. They also want to see more cost-benefit analyses to inform policy, and continued capacity building, both within government and the wider research community, to undertake robust economic analyses of criminal justice policies and programmes.


Experiencing different cultures enhances creativity

December 15, 2010

When in Rome…Learn why the Romans do what they do:  how multicultural learning experiences facilitate creativity


From Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin


This research reveals that creativity can be enhanced by experiencing cultures different from one’s own. Three studies looked at students who had lived abroad and those who hadn’t, testing them on different aspects of creativity. Relative to a control group, which hadn’t experienced a different culture, participants in the different culture group provided more evidence of creativity in various standard tests of the trait. Those results suggest that multicultural learning is a critical component of the adaptation process, acting as a creativity catalyst..


Are internet daters more likely to lie about themselves?

December 14, 2010

Strategic misrepresentation in online dating: The effects of gender, self-monitoring, and personality traits


From Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 

Internet dating is a growing trend, but can we trust the information that people provide about themselves via online dating services? The researchers in this study investigated over 5000 individuals dating online, using surveys that included questions on personality traits such as openness, extroversion, education and income. The surveys also investigated the important trait of self monitoring, to capture how people present themselves to others. Findings reveal those who scored highly on this trait were more likely to misinterpret themselves.

There were little differences between the sexes, however women were more likely to fib about their weight, whereas men were more prone to tell white lies on other subjects, such as how many previous partners they had had. Overall people looking for romance online actually behave very much as they do in face to face dating and relationships,


Bed rest can harm, instead of help, in pregnancy complications

December 9, 2010

Antepartum Bed Rest for Pregnancy Complications: Efficacy and Safety for Preventing Preterm Birth

From Biological Research for Nursing 

This article reveals that bed rest may not be the best option for preventing preterm labor and may even cause harm to the mother and baby. Bed rest is prescribed for up to 1 million women in the U.S. annually to treat pregnancy complications, based on the assumptions that it is effective in preventing preterm birth and is safe for both the mother and baby. The researcher found a number of troubling issues with bed rest, including such concerns as fatigue, depression,  and loss of: muscle function, bone and weight. The author suggested that “nurses can challenge bed-rest treatment by functioning as advocates for women and educating them about the evidence for bed-rest treatment as well as the risks and benefits”. This article is part of a special issue on “Women’s health across the lifespan”.


The significant impact of apple juice on the behavioral and psychological symptoms of Alzheimer’s

December 8, 2010

From American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias 

This study reveals that apple juice can be a useful supplement for calming the declining moods that are part of the normal progression of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s Disease. After institutionalized AD patients consumed two 4-oz glasses of apple juice a day for a month, their caregivers reported no change in the patients’ Dementia Rating Scale or their day-to-day abilities. What did change, however, was the behavioral and psychotic symptoms associated with their dementia with approximately 27% improvement, mostly in the areas related to anxiety, agitation, and delusion. The statistically significant impact of apple juice on the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia in this study adds to the body of evidence supporting the usefulness of nutritional approaches, including fruit and vegetable juices, in delaying the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.


US nuclear safety claim is a “dangerous fantasy”

December 7, 2010

How US strategic antimissile defense could be made to work

From Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Contrary to a new nuclear strategy adopted by the US government in April 2010, that relies on assumptions that the current missile defense systems will reliably protect the continental United States in the extreme circumstances of nuclear-armed combat, now research presented in this study shows that these defenses have not been tested against real-world threats and would not be effective in real combat conditions.

The Ground-Based Missile Defense system (GND) is currently protecting the continental United States from long-range nuclear-armed ballistic missiles that might be launched in the future from countries such as Iran and North Korea. Making matters worse, the authors write, are the recent Iranian ballistic missile tests that indicate Iran is developing effective countermeasures that would defeat these US missile defenses. The authors conclude that the new US nuclear strategy is based on an alarming “technical myth” that the systems are proven and effective.


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