Post List

Social Science posts

(Modify Search »)

  • August 2, 2011
  • 10:05 AM

What makes us musical animals? [Part 2]

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

We have known for some time that babies possess a keen perceptual sensitivity for the melodic, rhythmic and dynamic aspects of speech and music: aspects that linguists are inclined to categorize under the term ‘prosody’, but which are in fact the building blocks of music. Only much later in a child’s development does he or she make use of this ‘musical prosody’, for instance in delineating and subsequently recognizing word boundaries. In the essay shown below I try to make a case for ........ Read more »

Mampe B, Friederici AD, Christophe A, & Wermke K. (2009) Newborns' cry melody is shaped by their native language. Current biology : CB, 19(23), 1994-7. PMID: 19896378  

  • August 2, 2011
  • 07:58 AM

The Life-Spans of Empires

by Samuel Arbesman in

I recently published my first history article. Titled The Life-Spans of Empires, it’s published in the delightfully-named journal Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History. Using a fun dataset I unearthed from some articles in the Nineteen Seventies, I explore the lifespans of empires, and their similarities to other complex systems: The collapse [...]... Read more »

Samuel Arbesman. (2011) The Life-Spans of Empires. Historical Methods, 44(3), 127-129. info:/10.1080/01615440.2011.577733

  • August 2, 2011
  • 04:21 AM

The 30something Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Brain maturation continues for longer than previously thought - well up until age 30. That's according to two papers just out, which may be comforting for those lamenting the fact that they're nearing the big Three Oh.This challenges the widespread view that maturation is essentially complete by the end of adolescence, in the early to mid 20s.Petanjek et al show that the number of dendritic spines in the prefrontal cortex increases during childhood and then rapidly falls during puberty - which p........ Read more »

Lebel C, & Beaulieu C. (2011) Longitudinal development of human brain wiring continues from childhood into adulthood. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 31(30), 10937-47. PMID: 21795544  

Petanjek, Z., Judas, M., Simic, G., Rasin, M., Uylings, H., Rakic, P., & Kostovic, I. (2011) Extraordinary neoteny of synaptic spines in the human prefrontal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1105108108  

  • August 1, 2011
  • 11:17 AM

Sonority and Sex: Why smaller communities are louder

by Sean Roberts in A Replicated Typo 2.0

Ember & Ember show that the degree of sonority in a language is related to the frequency of extramarital sex in its community. Could this be linked to why smaller communities have a smaller phoneme inventory?... Read more »

  • August 1, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

“Not all psychopaths are in prison. Some are in the Boardroom.”

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

When Robert Hare casually uttered the above statement, it caused small shock waves through the media. We are all familiar with psychopaths who end up in prison but we tend to not consider the reality that “they” walk among us. Recently, a study of 203 executives was conducted as part of a larger effort at [...]

No related posts.... Read more »

Babiak P, Neumann CS, & Hare RD. (2010) Corporate psychopathy: Talking the walk. Behavioral sciences , 28(2), 174-93. PMID: 20422644  

  • July 31, 2011
  • 05:00 PM

Who Attains Status (And How Do They Get There)?

by Psych Your Mind in Psych Your Mind

Machiavelli (source)
"Of Mankind we may say in general they are fickle, and greedy of gain."  --Machiavelli (1532)
In several of the posts on this blog, we have written about the various forms and functions of social hierarchies in society. For instance, we have written about the perils of economic inequality here and here, we have written (here) about how power can corrupt people--unless they are prosocially oriented (read: nice), and we have written (here) about our paradoxical ne........ Read more »

Anderson, C., & Kilduff, G. (2009) The Pursuit of Status in Social Groups. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(5), 295-298. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01655.x  

Berger, J., Cohen, B., & Zelditch, M. (1972) Status Characteristics and Social Interaction. American Sociological Review, 37(3), 241. DOI: 10.2307/2093465  

  • July 31, 2011
  • 11:50 AM

What makes us musical animals?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

This week a plug for my new book that just came out: Musical Cognition: A Science of Listening (Read fragments of it online at Google Books; currently available with more than 30% discount on the hardcover at Amazon and Barnes & Noble).From the cover:"Musical Cognition suggests that music is a game (or, in other words, 'benificial play'). In music, our cognitive functions such as perception, memory, attention, and expectation are challenged; yet as listeners we often do not realize that the ........ Read more »

Winkler, I., Haden, G., Ladinig, O., Sziller, I., & Honing, H. (2009) Newborn infants detect the beat in music. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(7), 2468-2471. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0809035106  

  • July 30, 2011
  • 12:44 PM

Contra Deus ex Machina

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

In Ars Poetica (“The Art of Poetry”), the great Roman lyricist Horace counsels against using gods to resolve thorny plots. The deus ex machina is simply too tidy and unbelievable. When gods swoop in to save the day, the mundane becomes sacred. Metaphysics to the rescue.

I was reminded of Horace’s enduring wisdom by two recent [...]... Read more »

Delton AW, Krasnow MM, Cosmides L, & Tooby J. (2011) Evolution of direct reciprocity under uncertainty can explain human generosity in one-shot encounters. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 21788489  

Mathew S, & Boyd R. (2011) Punishment sustains large-scale cooperation in prestate warfare. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(28), 11375-80. PMID: 21670285  

  • July 29, 2011
  • 12:18 PM

Friday Weird Science: Knights in Shining Armor, Not as sexy as you might think

by Scicurious in Neurotic Physiology

This new article has gained substantial attention on the interwebs, and who can blame us? After all, knights, shining armor, it's what lots of people like to pretend to be (or pretend to be rescued by, goes both ways). Picture it if you would: a damsel in distress, inches from death in the maw of [...]... Read more »

  • July 29, 2011
  • 12:07 PM

Swedes move to the city, but don’t leave the forest behind

by Tim De Chant in Per Square Mile

If there’s one thing that comes to mind when you think of Sweden besides Ikea and meatballs, it’s probably forests. They cover nearly 70 percent of the country. As a result, Swedes have a very close relationship with their forests, though the nature of it has changed in the last few decades. Swedish forests have [...]... Read more »

  • July 29, 2011
  • 11:35 AM

Breakfast Skipping and Change in Body Mass Index in Young Children

by Mr Epidemiology in Mr Epidemiology

As mothers everywhere know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, as scientists, we want empirical evidence. Breakfast has been associated with several health outcomes, ranging from increased academic performance, to improved quality of life, as well as enhanced dietary profiles. While many cross-sectional studies have found that those who skip breakfast are more [...]... Read more »

  • July 29, 2011
  • 10:13 AM

Does Rough-and-Tumble Play Teach Lessons About Fairness? “Why, Soitenly!”

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The Three Stooges was the source of an ongoing controversy between my parents. My dad introduced my brother and I to their antics and would often laugh along with us as we imitated their physical hijinks in front of the TV. But, for my mom, the Stooges’ fake violence and prat falls were simply ridiculous [...]

... Read more »

  • July 29, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: When you want to stack the jury with extraverts

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Extraverts are the ones in the jury box who are making plans for lunch and organizing jury reunion parties.  They chat up their bench-mates during voir dire, and can be seen making good-natured eye contact with everyone in the courtroom. They are also, according to some new research, more likely to believe in free will, [...]

Related posts:Simple Jury Persuasion: Blind spots, ethics & helping a jury make the right choice
Simple Jury Persuasion: The ‘attitude alignment’ effect & ........ Read more »

  • July 29, 2011
  • 03:48 AM

What Big Eyes You Have

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

According to the BBC, a new study has found that northern peoples have bigger eyes - and bigger brains.Actually, the paper in question talked about eyes but didn't make much of the brain finding, which is confined to the Supplement. Nonetheless, they did find an effect on brain size too. Peoples living further from the equator have larger eye sockets and also larger total cranial capacity (brain volume), apparantly. The authors include Robin Dunbar of "Dunbar's Number" fame.Their idea is that hu........ Read more »

  • July 28, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

Book Review: "Elixir" by Brian Fagan

by Matthew Garcia in Hydro-Logic

"Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind" by Brian Fagan, published in 2011 by Bloomsbury Press, New York NY, ISBN 978-1-60819-003-4
... Read more »

Evans, D., Pottier, C., Fletcher, R., Hensley, S., Tapley, I., Milne, A., & Barbetti, M. (2007) A comprehensive archaeological map of the world's largest preindustrial settlement complex at Angkor, Cambodia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(36), 14277-14282. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0702525104  

  • July 27, 2011
  • 01:45 PM

Thinking about how we think about landscapes

by Tim De Chant in Per Square Mile

Take a look at the painting above. It’s one of Thomas Cole’s most famous works, commonly known as The Oxbow.¹ It’s got a little something for everyone. A twisted old tree. A menacing thunderstorm. Soaring cumulonimbus clouds. A spot of sunlight. A meandering river. Well manicured farm fields. I could go on and on. Part [...]... Read more »

  • July 27, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Female bosses can lower a man’s pay & prestige

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

When you see a picture of Tammy Wynette on our blog, you know it’s time for another installation of “sometimes it’s hard to be a woman”. This time we have new research on how a female boss in a traditionally male job can lower her male subordinate’s salary as well as his prestige. How can this be [...]

Related posts:Hard to be a woman? The beat goes on….
Redux: Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman (with appreciation to Tammy Wynette, Linda Ronstadt and Anne Reed)
“I didn’t kno........ Read more »

Brescoll, VL,, Uhlmann, EL, & Moss-Racusin, C. (2011) Masculinity, Status and Subordination: Why working for a gender stereotype violator causes men to lose status. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. info:/

  • July 26, 2011
  • 11:05 AM

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Will Industrialized Foods Be the End of Us?

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

There’s a sign hanging in my local deli that offers customers some tips on what to expect in terms of quality and service. It reads: Your order: Can be fast and good, but it won’t be cheap. Can be fast and cheap, but it won’t be good. Can be good and cheap, but it won’t [...]

... Read more »

  • July 25, 2011
  • 05:10 PM

Why do more children die when Pentecostals are around?

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

The US has a persistently high infant mortality rate when compared with other wealthy nations. The reasons for this a partly understood - poverty is a major risk factor for childhood death, And it's believed that the high levels of income and racial stratification could be to blame. Problems with health are infrastructure are also thought to contribute.

But could culture be partly to blame? Quite possibly, and one way to find out is to see whether the dominant culture in a region is linked to h........ Read more »

  • July 25, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Mock Jury Research: How do we make it more useful?

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

The literature on mock juries has been criticized for years for use of convenience samples (i.e., college students). An upcoming issue of the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law is devoted to examining mock jury research and assessing where we have been and where we need to go. The authors argue that since we are trying [...]

Related posts:Why do the African American mock jurors all sit together?
Should you try online jury research?
The “Nerd Defense”: Redux
... Read more »

Wiener RL, Krauss DA, & Lieberman JD. (2011) Mock Jury Research: Where Do We Go from Here?. Behavioral sciences . PMID: 21706517  

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit