Archive for December, 2011

Football could contribute to strokes in adolescents

December 30, 2011

American childhood football as a possible risk factor for cerebral infarction

Journal of Child Neurology

Young football players may be at higher risk for stroke, according to this study that looks at potential causes to stroke after football injury. The authors looked at various case studies of football players in their teens that suffered a stroke and found some potential causes for strokes in young football athletes. Some of those potential risks include:

  • an increase of hyperventilation
  • repeated neurological injury
  • use of anabolic steroids
  • use of highly caffeinated energy drinks
  • an increase in obesity of young players

The authors point out the increase in obesity presents a two-fold risk as it not only increases the force of impacts among the players, but also the likelihood for other stroke risk factors such as hypertension. They observe that organized childhood tackle football in the United States can begin at age 5 years, leading to potentially decades of repeated brain injuries. In addition, the body mass index of the United States pediatric football-playing population continues to increase, so the forces experienced by tackled pediatric players continues to increase. Looking at the previous research, the authors conclude that even more investigation is needed to better draw conclusions and best practices for dealing with head trauma and football in children.


Meritocracy favors men over women

December 29, 2011

The paradox of meritocracy in organizations

From Administrative Science Quarterly

Managers embedded in performance-based merit systems were more likely to award larger bonuses to men than equally-performing women, according to this study. The research examined how managers might divide bonus money among equally performing employees in both meritocratic and non-meritocratic work environments. It found that In the meritocratic environment, managers gave men more in bonus compensation than their equally qualified female counterparts and the outcome was vice versa in non-meritocratic environments. This work reveals that bias can be triggered by attempts to reduce it, particularly in organizational contexts that emphasize meritocratic values,” wrote the authors. “This paradox of meritocracy is of theoretical relevance because it provides an insight into why gender and racial disparities persist within job titles and work establishments, especially given the recent shift to employer procedures emphasizing merit and pay for performance. Conclusions imply that if not implemented carefully, such efforts may prove unhelpful or even harmful. Not to suggest that the pursuit of meritocracy is futile, only that it may be more difficult than it first appears.


Inconsistent evaluations may affect promotion of women in law firms

December 22, 2011

Language of performance evaluations: gender-based shifts in content and consistency of judgment 

From Social Psychological and Personality Science

Partners in Wall Street law firms write equally nice things about the work of their male and female junior lawyers, but when they use hard numbers, they rate the men higher, according to this study. Researchers looked at the performance evaluations by mostly male senior lawyers, of more than 230 junior attorneys—35% women— working in a Wall Street law firm.

Independent experts, who did not know the gender of the person being written about, rated the competence communicated in writing. Women received significantly more positive feedback, yet the men with more positive words had higher numbers. For women receiving positive words it was completely uncorrelated with their numerical ratings.  Authors suggest that there was a male favoritism when using numbers.


Costly intervention programme has no measurable effect on early retirement

December 21, 2011

Effect of a multidisciplinary rehabilitation programme on perceived health among employees at increased risk of incapacity for work: A controlled study 

From Clinical Rehabilitation

Most of us would agree that prevention is better than cure. However this study indicates that a costly intervention programme designed to reduce early retirement on health grounds in Finland had no measurable effect. The research was a large scale evaluative study of vocational rehabilitation, which followed 872 participants and their 2440 matched controls for up to nine years. The participants went through a four-week prevention programme incorporating physical and psychological health education and support. It aimed to help participants adopt a healthier lifestyle, and to achieve greater aerobic capacity, muscle strength and endurance, and to better manage their own stress. The four week programme is widely used in Finland but this study suggests that the programme had little effect, either in the short or long term, on how those who took part perceived their health. Although the authors stress that their findings may not hold true beyond Finland, the study shines a spotlight on similar, work-related interventions. They conclude that future research is needed to examine the reasons for the ineffectiveness of this costly early intervention and to identify more effective preventive measures to improve subjective health in working populations.


Novice wine drinkers are more easily swayed to purchase wine based on its advertising

December 20, 2011

The effects of perceptual and conceptual training on novice wine drinkers’ development

From Cornell Hospitality Quarterly 

Novice wine drinkers may think that it is the taste of a wine that shapes their wine preferences, but it may actually be the advertising. This study conducted two experiments in which they tested a total of 375 participants with varying levels of wine expertise and found that without learning about the background of a wine and the process of its production, novice wine drinkers are more easily swayed to purchase wine based on its advertising than more experienced wine drinkers. While the sensory approach used by most wine restaurateurs and marketers to promote expensive wines are beneficial for expert wine drinkers, new wine drinkers can be easily swayed by competing marketing material that can overwhelm their own personal preferences despite having tasted a different wine. The authors suggest the solution to this problem, is for wine producers to combine the experience of tasting their wines with background material that guides the learning process in a creative way.


The assault on Los Alamos

December 15, 2011

From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

December 2011 Podcast: The assault on Los Alamos – Mindy Kay Bricker speaks to Hugh Gusterson about the history and uncertain future of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Since the late 1990s, nuclear weapons scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory have faced an unanticipated threat to their work: from politicians and administrators. Hugh talk about his article in the Bulletin, where he argues for the likelihood that security lapses at Los Alamos may be symptoms of structural flaws in the workplace, but it is easier to stereotype and scapegoat scientists than to address the real problems.

Listen to this free podcast

A divergent collective memory could help explain why the political crisis lasted so long in Belgium

December 14, 2011

From Memory Studies

This paper offers findings from research that give insights into the political crisis in Belgium. Researchers from various Belgian and American universities conducted a study and provided reflections on the crisis, which has now been resolved, nearly 18 months after the general elections in June 2010. Their focus was on the way memories of past events affect current political and inter-group relations. According to the researchers, the political crisis could be partly explained by divergent and sometimes opposite memories which the two linguistic groups hold about the past. These divergent memories come from multiple domains: linguistic, historical and economic.


Give me some space!: Responses to table spacing in restaurants

December 13, 2011

Responses to table spacing in restaurants

From Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

The concept of personal space is well established, but the amount of personal space a person needs varies according to individual, situation, and culture. This paper considers how people respond to space in restaurants. A web-based survey was used to capture more than 1,000 Americans behavioral intentions and emotional responses to a projected restaurant experience when parallel dining tables were spaced at different distances apart under three common dining scenarios.  Consumers are clear in their dislike of closely spaced restaurant tables. The context of the dining experience (e.g., a business lunch, a family occasion) is likely to be a key factor in consumers’ preferences for table spacing and their subsequent behaviors. Gender was also a factor, as women were much less comfortable than men in tight quarters. Although difficult to draw firm implications for restaurateurs due to the many variables it is perhaps sensible to give spacing some thought as diners may be less likely to return to a restaurant with uncomfortable table spacing.


Children’s language and communication needs: Evaluating intervention and service provision in schools

December 8, 2011

Special issue Children’s language and communication needs: Evaluating intervention and service provision in schools

From Child Language Teaching and Therapy

This special issue brings together practitioners and researchers involved in training staff and supporting children with SLCN in mainstream schools. The collection of articles was put together following a conference held at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, which was jointly organized by the University of Sheffield and De Montfort University to explore how a variety of interventions carried out in schools could be evaluated. The papers from that conference in this issue illustrate examples of how the authors have tried to deal with the ‘real life’ challenges of car­rying out evaluation studies.  The conference and special issue tie into the purpose and themes of this year dedicated to and recognized as the National Year Of Speech, Language And Communication initiated by The Communication Trust with the aim of dedicating a year to help all children communicate’ aims to raise awareness and support parents and the workforce with information and materials so they are better equipped to assist children.

In the free podcast Joy Stackhouse and Jannet Wright discuss their special issue


Mental health is a significant factor for the Japanese youth phenomenon of prolonged social isolation

December 6, 2011

General condition of hikikomori (prolonged social withdrawal) in Japan: Psychiatric diagnosis and outcome in mental health welfare centres

From International Journal of Social Psychiatry

The issue of hikikomori (prolonged social withdrawal) among Japanese youth has attracted attention from interna­tional experts. According to the epidemiology of hikikomori in a community population, a total of 1.2% had experienced the phenomenon in their lifetime. Many people suffer from hikikomori in Japan.  For the first time this research analyzed the psychiatric background of sufferers whereas previous studies examined the unique social and cultural factors contributing to this phenomenon of social isolation. The participants in this study who sought help during the consultation and support process were classified as the ‘help-seeking group’. A third of subjects within this group were diagnosed with mental health conditions ranging between schizophrenia, mood disorders and anxiety disorders and this group needed pharmacotherapy. Other subjects were diagnosed with personality disorders or pervasive developmental disorders and they mainly needed psycho-social support. This study confirms that hikikomori is more than a social-cultural issue, and inclusion of mental health problems and mental disorders is therefore necessary. There is little doubt that sufferers are much worse if they do not seek help.


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