Archive for November, 2011

Summing up the financial crisis hitting the eurozone

November 30, 2011

The Euro Crisis

From Local Economy

In the light of recent developments, like the rise of new Greek Prime Minister Papademos, current commentators on the euro crisis can be read with new eyes.  This review article The euro crisis  sums up and analyses some key books both looking at the history of the eurozone and trying to understand the fiscal crisis in Europe.  Ireland and Greece (see also this article for further comments on the Greek experience) are given particular attention.  The author agrees with commentator Matthew Lynn that Eurozone might be a ‘deeply flawed project’, but suggests a tougher, better Eurozone might just emerge from the crisis.


Are you too old to learn a second language?

November 29, 2011

The effect of age on the acquisition of second language prosody

From Language and Speech

This study tackles the controversial topic of age-related decline in second language attainment. It tested and surveyed three groups of Mandarin-speaking immigrants with varying Age on Arrival to the USA. A group of native speakers was also analyzed. The study provides evidence for an overall advantage in the early learning of a second language. This research found that group differences were statistically significant for speech rate, degree of foreign prosody, the frequency of pitch accents, and the frequency of high boundary tones. The results also suggest the prominent roles of media exposure and motivation in the ultimate outcomes of certain prosodic features.


Video-chatting may be the future for rural and isolated students

November 24, 2011

Voice-over-the-internet-protocol as a medium for delivering reading intervention: Evidence from a single case study

From SAGE Open

Distance may no longer be an obstacle for struggling students living in rural and isolated areas. This study confirms that video-chatting technology is an effective way for educators to teach their students from remote locations. Authors sought to determine if voice-over-the-Internet Protocol (VoIP), internet-based systems that allow for two or more individuals from remote locations to communicate via videoconferencing, could be an effective tool for educators with students who would otherwise have difficulty travelling to a classroom.  The authors found that the student was better able to recognize and make sense of new words and comprehend the provided reading material after the ten-week period. For example, by the time the course was complete, the student’s test scores on reading accuracy tests were more than five times better than the original scores. These improvements were maintained at a ten-week follow-up assessment. Several advantages to utilizing VoIP technology as a primary means for teaching were identified such as easier accessibility, saving time and money on travel for students and their parents, and potential savings for both public and private educational programs.


More than a toy: Holding a teddy bear can ease the negative effects of social exclusion

November 23, 2011

Touching a teddy bear mitigates negative effects of social exclusion to increase prosocial behavior

From Social Psychological and Personality Science

From a social standpoint, social exclusion increases aggressive behavior, impairs self-regulation and decreases prosocial behavior. Given the negative consequences of exclusion, there is surprisingly little research on ways to mitigate its deleterious effects. This study examined how touching an inanimate object—a teddy bear—might impact the effect of social exclusion on prosocial behavior. Across two studies, researchers found that socially excluded individuals who touched a teddy bear acted more prosocially. It highlighted the overlap between the physical and social pain systems. This suggests that it may be possible to use touch, a physical intervention, to alleviate the pain of exclusion. Future research needs to establish the class of objects and their definitive properties that lead people to use these objects to alleviate the pain of exclusion.


The right face leads to success: Facial structure predicts financial performance

November 22, 2011

A face only an investor could love – CEOs’ facial structure predicts their firms’ financial performance

From Psychological Science

Leadership researchers have long theorized that innate characteristics distinguish successful leaders from unsuccessful leaders. This paper considers if innate personal traits are related to leadership success, specifically identifying leaders’ facial structure, the facial width-to-height ratio (WHR), as a physical trait that correlates with organizational performance. The study reveals that firms headed by CEOs with wider faces (relative to facial height) achieved superior financial performance. In a key departure from previous research, which has focused on observers’ subjective assessments of faces, it has identified specific, measureable characteristics that can be reliably captured from photographs.


Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) makes people avoid risk in fall and winter

November 18, 2011

This is your portfolio on winter: seasonal affective disorder and risk aversion in financial decision making

From Social Psychological and Personality Science 

About 10 percent of the population suffers from severe seasonal depression, known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). However evidence suggests even those who do not suffer from the medical condition of SAD still experience some degree of seasonal fluctuation in mood. This study shows that people who experience seasonal depression shun financial risk-taking during seasons with diminished daylight but are more willing to accept risk in spring and summer. The researchers based their findings on a study of faculty and staff at a large North American university. Participants were paid for each part of the study they joined, which included online surveys and behavioural assessments. They also had the option of putting some or all of their payment into an investment with 50:50 odds and where the potential gains exceeded the potential losses, to mimic financial risk. Participants who experienced seasonal depression chose more of the guaranteed payments and put less money at risk in winter, but their risk tolerance came more into line with other participants’ in summer. The findings have implications for people like financial planners who may need to be more sensitive to seasonal variation in their clients’ risk tolerance. Stock traders may also benefit from understanding where their reactions are coming from when dealing with a bad trading day. The author concludes “It’s important to take a deep breath and make sure that decisions are being made on the basis of objective criteria, rather than emotional criteria”.


Women in prison: An issue of blaming the individual for social problems

November 17, 2011

Experiences of interpersonal violence and criminal legal control: a mixed method analysis

From SAGE Open

Researchers have long claimed that physical abuse and marginalization lead to criminal activity; however, women in prison are taught to overlook socioeconomic issues and blame only themselves for their behaviour.  This study confirms that there is a real connection between the type of abuse experienced by women, marginalization, and whether or not they will turn to drugs and criminal activity to cope with their experiences. The authors contend current psychiatric and popular discourse that portrays female incarceration as the result of poor choices and bad behavior “rather than identifying structural conditions that lead to imprisonment—including changes in laws, racist and sexist legislation, poverty, lack of resources and jobs, and social vulnerability over the course of one’s life.”  This study used surveys and interviews with incarcerated or formerly imprisoned women. Having few or no options because of their marginalized socioeconomic positions, entrenched racial inequality, and repeated episodes of violence, respondents indicated that criminalized activities became survival mechanisms, which led to incarceration. The authors point to institutional change and support systems for victims of abuse as a way to prevent female criminal activity.



The impact of new media on customer relationships

November 15, 2011

From Journal of Service Research

The ways consumers communicate with each other have been changing dramatically over the last decade.  New media require a shift in marketing thinking – consumers have become highly active partners, serving as customers as well as producers and retailers, being strongly connected with a network of other consumers. This paper introduces a new ‘‘pinball’’ framework of new media’s impact and from a detailed analysis of the specific characteristics of new media, the authors identify challenges relating to understanding of consumer behavior. 10 new media phenomena have been identified, for each they summarize the existing literature and highlight important areas for future research. While the enormous rise of new media is highly disruptive for the management of relationships with customers, it also creates extensive opportunities for new business models.


Sexism legitimizes gender inequality and makes it worse

November 10, 2011

Sexism and gender inequality across 57 societies

From Psychological Science

The purpose of this study was to directly test the hypothesis that sexism is a hierarchy-enhancing ideology by examining the contribution of sexist ideologies to increases in gender inequality across 57 societies. This study is the most expansive study of sexism conducted to date and is the first study to demonstrate the temporal precedence of sexism in enhancing gender inequality. By taking advantage of both individual and societal-level data, it was possible to examine the association between ideological beliefs and systemic outcomes. Higher levels of societal health, wealth, and education have been related to lower levels of support for sexist gender ideologies The results presented suggest that sexism not only legitimizes gender inequality, but actively makes it worse.


‘Who am I?’: Online dating self-presentations

November 9, 2011

Profile as promise: A framework for conceptualizing veracity in online dating self-presentations

From New Media & Society

Philosophers have long struggled with the existential inquiry, ‘Who am I?’, but this fundamental question is now routinely posed to internet users each time they construct an online representation of self, or profile. This study considers how discrepancies between one’s online profile and offline presentation are constructed, assessed, and justified. A qualitative approach influenced by grounded theory was taken In order to better understand user percep­tions and understandings. From this analysis the authors propose the online dating profile as promise framework as an ana­lytic lens that captures user understandings about profile representation through a qualitative analysis of their retrospective reflections. This study reveals that when it came to creating their own online representation, online dating participants gave themselves – and others – permission to employ a flexible sense of identity that drew upon past, present, and future selves. It recognizes online daters must manage the tension between comprehensively honest and selectively positive self-presentation in a context in which deception is technically effort­less but potentially damaging to relational goals and self-views. . The profile as promise framework enables us to better understand these dynamics and to consider when a misrepresentation is a lie and when it is merely a promise that may soon be fulfilled.


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