Post List

Social Science posts

(Modify Search »)

  • August 7, 2011
  • 11:25 PM

The Wikipedia Gender Gap, Part I

by Hadas Shema in Information Culture

Wikipedia editing is a men's club. We already talked here about the lack of Wikipedia female editors (barely 13% of the editors are women). However, that survey was self-selecting and most of the participants (75%) used Wikipedia in non-English languages. Now, Lam et al. (2011) present their analysis of the gender imbalance in English Wikipedia. They took most of their data out of the January 2011 data dump, as well as from the Wikipedia API and the January 2008 and 2010 data dumps.In Wikipedia,........ Read more »

Lam, S., Uduwage, A., Dong, Z., Sen, S., Musicant, D. R., Terveen, L., & Terveen, J. (2011) WP:Clubhouse? An Exploration of Wikipedia’s Gender Imbalance. WikiSym’11, October 3–5, Mountain View, California. info:/

  • August 7, 2011
  • 05:05 PM

Do the rich use religion to keep the poor in their place?

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

In the previous post, I took a look at the fairly substantial weight of evidence linking religion to inequality, specifically income inequality, with religion. The most unequal countries also tend to be the most religious, even when you take into account a variety of other factors.

Why should this be? There are a number of theories. One is that unequal societies also tend to have a lot of other problems, and the stresses that these cause may turn people to religion.

Frederick Solt and colleagu........ Read more »

Solt, F., Habel, P., & Grant, J. (2011) Economic Inequality, Relative Power, and Religiosity*. Social Science Quarterly, 92(2), 447-465. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2011.00777.x  

  • August 6, 2011
  • 06:42 AM

Cultural Evolution and the Impending Singularity: The Movie

by Sean Roberts in A Replicated Typo 2.0

A video of a talk I gave at the Santa Fe Institute, asking questions like "Has Biological Evolution come to an end?", "Is belief an emergent property?", "Will advanced computers use humans as batteries?" and "Will robots spend more time playing the violin than solving science?"... Read more »

Sperl, M., Chang, A., Weber, N., & Hübler, A. (1999) Hebbian learning in the agglomeration of conducting particles. Physical Review E, 59(3), 3165-3168. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.59.3165  

Chater N, & Christiansen MH. (2010) Language acquisition meets language evolution. Cognitive science, 34(7), 1131-57. PMID: 21564247  

Ay N, Flack J, & Krakauer DC. (2007) Robustness and complexity co-constructed in multimodal signalling networks. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 362(1479), 441-7. PMID: 17255020  

Guttal V, & Couzin ID. (2010) Social interactions, information use, and the evolution of collective migration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(37), 16172-7. PMID: 20713700  

  • August 5, 2011
  • 01:36 PM

The curious relationship between place names and population density

by Tim De Chant in Per Square Mile

Giving a name to a place is an important act. It says a place has meaning, that it should be remembered. For thousands of years, the way we kept track of place names—or toponyms—was by using our memory. Today, we’re not nearly so limited, and the number of toponyms seems to have exploded. Yet oddly [...]... Read more »

  • August 5, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Let me tell you a story…

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Everyone loves to hear a good story.  And if you are reading our blog, you probably love to tell stories, too.  A good story is essential to effective communication and persuasion, and that sort of defines our wheel-house.  But I digress…  Sometimes stories are traditional “once upon a time” sorts of tales, but more often [...]

Related posts:Voir Dire Tip: Are you ‘transported’ by a good story?
The story of the numbers behind the story
You’re not too old for a story (but you mi........ Read more »

  • August 5, 2011
  • 02:27 AM

Friday Fun: At the Movies (with a Psychologist)

by Psych Your Mind in Psych Your Mind

Because Juli's psychology songs post was so much fun, I thought I'd try something new this Friday. In what follows, I will provide a very brief summary of the plot, or a specific scene, from a movie. After this description, I will then discuss a key psychological construct that the movie's theme relates to.

It's a simple game, so let's get started. There are spoilers, so read on with caution.

Read More->... Read more »

Haslam, N., Rothschild, L., & Ernst, D. (2000) Essentialist beliefs about social categories. British Journal of Social Psychology, 39(1), 113-127. DOI: 10.1348/014466600164363  

  • August 4, 2011
  • 11:39 AM

Get the Gist of How Jurors Decide Damage Numbers

by Persuasion Strategies in Persuasive Litigator

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm - "Well...let me just throw a number out to get us rolling: Five million dollars!" (Recent mock juror quote) Juror damage awards can seem erratic and inexplicable, not only to the public, but to experienced litigators as well. Particularly when jurors are valuing something other than a concrete expense by assessing non-economic or punitive damages, the process can seem driven by nothing more than caprice. One effect of mock trial research -- namely, the ability to watch jur........ Read more »

Valerie P. Hans and Valerie F. Reyna. (2011) To Dollars from Sense: Qualitative to Quantitative Translation in Jury Damage Awards . Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper, 11(25). info:/

  • August 3, 2011
  • 04:49 PM

Well that settles it: income inequality really does go hand in hand with religion

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Long-time readers of this blog will know that the link between inequality and religion has a particular fascination for me. In fact, the blog started while I was doing background research into a paper I wrote in 2009, on the link between income inequality and religion in countries around the world.

The idea was first put forward in rough form in an earlier book by Pippa Norris and Ronald Ingelhart. My paper took that a modest step further, by showing that income inequality really did seem to be........ Read more »

  • August 3, 2011
  • 03:48 PM

Antipsychotics - The New Valium?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Antipsychotics, originally designed to control the hallucinations and delusions seen in schizophrenia, have been expanding their domain in recent years. Nowadays, they're widely used in bipolar disorder, depression, and as a new paper reveals, increasingly in anxiety disorders as well.The authors, Comer et al, looked at the NAMCS survey, which provides yearly data on the use of medications in visits to office-based doctors across the USA.Back in 1996, just 10% of visits in which an anxiety diso........ Read more »

  • August 3, 2011
  • 01:56 PM

Hunting Pathogens in Siberian Permafrost Graves

by Michelle Ziegler in Contagions

The Yakut community of Eastern Siberia has gained some attention from anthropologists because it culturally stands out from other Siberian populations. Their Turkic language, unique burial practices, and horse-breeding culture is not native to Siberia. Recent genetic analysis of 58 bodies preserved in permafrost from the last five centuries and 166 current members of the [...]... Read more »

Crubézy E, Amory S, Keyser C, Bouakaze C, Bodner M, Gibert M, Röck A, Parson W, Alexeev A, & Ludes B. (2010) Human evolution in Siberia: from frozen bodies to ancient DNA. BMC evolutionary biology, 25. PMID: 20100333  

  • August 3, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

I’m disgusted (until I wash my hands and feel purified)

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

It’s not just Pontius Pilate and Lady MacBeth, all of us feel better with clean hands. The disgust literature is everywhere these days. As it turns out, disgust is a powerful emotional motivator. Researchers recently attempted to see if being even minimally involved in activities that brought participants into contact with religious beliefs different from their own [...]

Related posts:Choosing to either disgust your jurors or tick them off
Eww! That is just disgusting! (but…very interest........ Read more »

Ritter, RS, & Preston, JL. (2011) Gross gods and icky atheism: Disgust responses to rejected religious beliefs. . Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. info:/

  • 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 »

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