Social and Behavioural
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Professor Victor de Munck | Exploring Different Courtship Styles from an Anthropological Perspective
Like other animals, humans have unique ways of approaching a potential mate and securing their affections. The goal of these ‘wooing’ processes is generally to establish a long-term romantic relationship with the person of interest. Victor de Munck, a Professor of Anthropology at Vilnius University, recently carried out a fascinating study exploring the most common patterns of courtship observed in the United States today, and the cultural influences underpinning these patterns.
Understanding Women’s Sexual Pain from a Psychodynamic Standpoint
Sexual pain, often referred to as vaginismus and dyspareunia, can be a debilitating condition that prevents many women from having penetrative sexual intercourse. While many studies have investigated this disorder, its psychological underpinnings are not yet fully understood. Dr Thula Koops, Christian Wiessner, Professor Johannes Ehrenthal, and Professor Peer Briken at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf recently explored some of the psychological dimensions of women’s sexual pain. They conducted this research from the standpoint of psychodynamics, which involves exploring links to childhood experiences and unconscious thoughts and feelings.
Dr Thula Koops – Professor Peer Briken | Real Life Stories: What Causes Sexual Pain Amongst Women?
Limited research has explored the causes of sexual pain and difficulties with intercourse that are experienced by women across the world. Dr Thula Koops and Professor Peer Briken at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf have spoken to women experiencing these difficulties and listened to their real stories and thoughts on the origins of their sexual difficulties. Based on these interviews, two main themes emerged. The first links these difficulties to perceived implications of womanhood, while the second focuses on the separation between body and mind in relation to the cause.
Dr Veronica Marconi | Exploring Views About Which Migrants Deserve Anti-Trafficking Assistance in Tuscany, Italy
Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment and coercion of individuals into labour or other activities that entail their exploitation. While victims of human trafficking can be led to engage in any type of labour or criminal activity, most anti-trafficking efforts primarily focus on people who are exploited in sex work. Dr Veronica Marconi of Oregon State University recently carried out a study aimed at better understanding how anti-trafficking organisations in the Italian region of Tuscany determine which migrants are deserving of their assistance.
Dr Audrey L. Altstadt – Exploring the Tortuous History of Two Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan
Human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus played a crucial role in Azerbaijan’s politics and modern history. After being sentenced to 8.5 years in jail by the Azerbaijani government and being released due to health issues, Leyla and Arif Yunus shared the suffering and torture they endured as regime opponents and political prisoners in a book entitled The Price of Freedom. Dr Audrey L. Altstadt, a Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, recently published a short article outlining the dynamics underlying the arrest of the two political activists and the struggle described in their book.
Professor Ariane Lambert-Mogiliansky | Quantum Persuasion: Can Targeted Distractions Change Our Viewpoints?
How our mind frames information, processes it and makes decisions is an active field of research in psychology, neurosciences and behavioural sciences. Recent research aims to quantify our cognitive processes by mapping them to mathematical theories. Professor Ariane Lambert-Mogiliansky’s work at the Paris School of Economics looks at how we can link cognitive processes, such as learning and decision-making, to the mathematics of quantum mechanics. She establishes and tests a quantum version of the persuasion problem, looking at how much one can alter a person’s cognitive state and orient their decisions through the smart use of questions and information. This research follows the steps of Niels Bohr, founding father of Quantum Mechanics, who wrote about essential similarities between Quantum Mechanics and the functioning of the mind.
Dr Kristiina A. Vogt | Dr Samantha De Abreu | Dr Maria Blancas – Indigenous Holistic Storytelling to Teach Environmental Science
Western approaches to environmental science typically focus on existing and future issues, such as climate change, and technological solutions to these issues. While these frameworks have their value, they often set aside holistic perspectives on land management, coexistence with nature, and ecosystem preservation. Dr Kristiina A. Vogt, Dr Samantha De Abreu and Dr Maria Blancas at the University of Washington are exploring the potential of holistic storytelling practices common among Indigenous communities to teach environmental science in more effective ways.
Professor Avril Horne – Dr Andrew John | Re-evaluating How We Assess and Manage Rivers in Response to Climate Change
Understanding and successfully managing river flows is vital for sustaining human communities, the river environment, and its ecosystems. However, the methods currently used to assess river flow needs are limited in the face of increasing pressures from an uncertain and changing climate. Academics at the University of Melbourne are rethinking the approach to these assessments. This includes work by Professor Avril Horne, Dr Andrew John and their collaborators to present a more integrated and holistic method, which provides much-needed room for learning over time, and to understand the vulnerability, robustness, and adaptability of river flow regimes.
Dr Markku Lehtonen | Understanding Trust, Mistrust, and Distrust in the Nuclear Sector
Is more trust always better? It is widely known that trust and confidence are fundamental in high-risk industries, such as nuclear energy and radioactive waste management. While public trust is definitely essential for policymaking, the upsides of mistrust and distrust are often overlooked by practitioners and social science researchers. This was recently examined in a special issue of the Journal of Risk Research, where a series of articles highlighted the ways in which mistrust and distrust can play a constructive role in the nuclear sector.
Dr David Gilkey | Assessing and Improving Workplace Safety in Metal Mining
Mining is a particularly hazardous industry, with miners often experiencing health problems, injuries and psychological issues. Dr David Gilkey, an Associate Professor of Safety, Health & Industrial Hygiene at Montana Technological University, has recently carried out a case study specifically investigating workplace safety climate in a metal mine in Montana. The study also assessed the effectiveness of a short training program to improve the metal mining company’s workplace safety leadership.
Professor Manoj Sharma | The Multi-theory Model (MTM) of Health Behavior Change: Understanding Meditation, or ‘Dhyana’
The multi-theory model – or ‘MTM’ – of health behavior change provides a theoretical framework for understanding and promoting health behaviors. Professor Manoj Sharma from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has now applied this model to understand the factors that lead people to take up meditation – or ‘dhyana’ – and to maintain this health-related behavior over time. His findings confirm the utility of the MTM in informing behavior change interventions and open up important avenues for future research.
Professor John P Miller | The Importance of Compassion and Compromise in Healthy Societies
In a recent paper, Professor John P Miller discusses the importance of mutual accommodation and compassion in preserving democracies and ensuring we can tackle some of our biggest global problems. He highlights the way in which Canada has become a more tolerant, cooperative, inclusive society by emphasising the role of compromise and compassion. Using examples from education, he shows how we can nurture these qualities in children and young adults.
Professor Samantha Punch | Benefits of Bridge: The Partnership Mindsport
Bridge is a popular card game played socially and competitively by millions of people throughout the world. Each game consists of four players divided into two pairs, or ‘partnerships’. They compete against each other to win ‘tricks’ through cooperation, strategic thinking and logical deduction. Professor Samantha Punch at the University of Stirling leads ‘Bridge: A MindSport for All’. This research-led project explores the benefits of bridge amongst the circuit of international players.
Dr Robert Walsh | Propaganda and Mass Deception Depend Upon the Tribal Mind
Propaganda is the systemic use of language with the intent to brainwash rather than to persuade. Deceptive communication designed to mislead the masses is commonplace in the Information Age. Dr Robert Walsh of Sisseton Wahpeton College in South Dakota recently examined how propagandists bend language for mass deception. He argued that what makes propaganda insidious is a vestige of our prehistoric past – the Neolithic or Tribal Mind.
Debra Klages | Post-traumatic Growth in Health Professionals Who are Mothers of Adult Children with Schizophrenia
For young people with schizophrenia, their first experience of psychosis is often highly traumatic. Because of the close, nurturing relationships mothers typically have with their children, they too can experience trauma while witnessing their children’s disturbing psychotic episodes. As a result, mothers of adult children with schizophrenia often experience negative impacts on their physical and psychological health. Debra Klages takes a unique perspective by shedding light on how the traumatic experiences of health professionals with dual roles as mothers can lead to personal and professional growth and resilience.
Professor Zygmunt Pizlo | How Fundamentals in Physics Can Explain Perception and Cognition
Psychophysics is the formal study of perception – our sensory experience of the world. Professor Zygmunt Pizlo at the University of California-Irvine explains that while symmetry is fundamental in both physics and mathematics, it is also fundamental to our understanding of vision. He believes there is much to gain in expanding the existing boundaries of psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience by embracing established fundamentals in physics.
The Multi-theory Model of Health Behavior Change: Understanding Meditation, or ‘Dhyana’ | Professor Manoj Sharma
Meditation is the regular, purposeful practice of becoming aware of one’s bodily sensations, thoughts, or other points of focus. Professor Manoj Sharma, a global health promotion leader and Chair of the Social and Behavioral Health department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, wished to test whether a health behavioral model that he developed could explain why adults begin and maintain a meditation practice. While this multi-theory model – or ‘MTM’ – has been applied to many health-related behaviors, two domains are core to the model: initiation of a health behavior and sustenance of this behavior.
Professor Kieran Kilcawley | Using Flavour Chemistry to Identify Biomarkers Behind the Sensory Perception of Irish Grass-fed Beef and Lamb
For many consumers, the origin of the food they buy is of great importance. For instance, Irish beef and lamb is often seen as superior quality meat, as the animals are typically reared outdoors on a diet of predominately fresh grass. However, are Irish beef and lamb actually any different to meats produced elsewhere, from animals reared indoors in less sustainable production systems? Professor Kieran Kilcawley and his team at the Teagasc Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, in conjunction with University College Dublin, are investigating the ‘flavour chemistry’ of beef and lamb. Their aim is to determine whether there are fundamental differences in the chemical properties of meat due to the animal’s diet and origin.
Dr William Durkan | Exploring How the Geography of Voter Turnout Impacts Election Results
Voter turnout plays a key role in the functioning of democracies. If only a minority of citizens vote, the elected government might not accurately represent the views of the population. In contrast, when voter turnout is high, a country’s government has a strong mandate to make decisions on its citizens’ behalf. The geographical distributions of voters and voter turnout also significantly affect the outcome of elections. Dr William Durkan of Maynooth University in Ireland recently explored the changing geographies of voter turnout in US presidential elections from 2012 to 2020, using the state of Michigan as a case study.
Sarah Leighton | Can Psychiatric Assistance Dogs Help Military Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?
Psychiatric assistance dogs trained to help with mental health symptoms have become increasingly popular as a complementary intervention for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sarah Leighton and her colleagues from Purdue University and the University of Arizona in the USA are exploring the effectiveness of psychiatric assistance dog partnerships for military veterans with PTSD.
Do European Citizens Accept EU and National Policies Equally?
Following the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, a related economic emergency known as the Euro Crisis spread throughout Europe. To counter this crisis, the EU imposed a series of austerity measures in the worst-hit countries, which fuelled outrage across Europe. However, it is unclear whether citizens were more outraged about these policies because they had been implemented by EU institutions rather than national governments. Professor Sonia Alonso and Professor Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca recently set out to understand whether the willingness of citizens to accept unpopular policies varies depending on whether they were introduced by their national governments or by EU institutions.
Dr Darren Sharpe, University of East London – Cultivating Young People’s Empowerment and Participation in Society
Young people are central to a country’s growth and development, as they bring fresh perspectives and innovation. However, the path towards gaining full inclusion in society can be arduous for many youths, particularly those from marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds.
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