Social and Behavioural
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So far, very few research studies have investigated the effects of criminal convictions on the families of defendants. Dr Hong Lu, a Professor of Criminal Justice at University of Nevada, along with her co-authors, Dr Yudu Li and Dr Bin Liang, carried out a study examining how the family of Nian Bin, the defendant in a high-profile capital case in China who received four death sentences, managed the physical, emotional, financial, and legal challenges they faced after their relative’s conviction.
In the United States, public opinions have become increasingly polarised. This polarisation leads to ‘othering’, which describes how one group of people can view another group as very different from themselves and depict them in negative ways. Dr Megan Schraedley at West Chester University recently carried out a study exploring how othering arises in the context of US politics, and how it can be disrupted. Understanding how this destructive phenomenon can be disrupted could help policymakers to successfully introduce important legislation.
Propaganda is the systemic use of language with the intent to brainwash rather than to persuade. It has the subtle but pervasive power to ensnare an entire populace toward a predetermined attitude or outlook. Deceptive communication is now commonplace in this information age. Dr Robert L. Walsh recently examined how propagandists bend language for mass deception. He argued that what makes propaganda so insidious is a vestige of our prehistoric past – the Neolithic or Tribal mind.
Professor Manoj Sharma | The Multi-theory Model (MTM) of Health Behavior Change: Understanding the Determinants of Breast Cancer Screening
The multi-theory model (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, the originator of this model, has applied this model to breast cancer and undertaking mammography screening in women from groups underserved in current healthcare. His findings have important theoretical and practical implications.
Dr Alejandro Estrada and Dr Paul A. Garber | The Importance of Indigenous Peoples in Safeguarding Earth’s Primates
Non-human primates play crucial roles in sustaining natural ecosystems worldwide. However, approximately 68% of primate species are now at risk of extinction, mainly due to agriculture and the depletion of natural resources. Dr Alejandro Estrada at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Dr Paul A. Garber at the University of Illinois-Urbana, and a group of scientists from various parts of the world recently carried out a study to better understand the role that Indigenous Peoples play in the conservation of threatened primates.
In many African countries, attitudes towards gender and sexual minorities are overwhelmingly negative. This could be partly due to religious norms and beliefs. However, empirical studies examining how religious leaders in Africa view such minority groups are still scarce. David Kuria Mbote of the Kuria Foundation for Social Enterprise and researchers from Saint Paul’s University in Kenya and institutes in the U.S. have been conducting research aimed at better understanding the attitudes of religious leaders in Kenya towards gay men, lesbian women, transgender people, and other marginalised groups.
In 2009, the US National Research Council Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Sciences Community published a report highlighting the need to estimate the validity of expert opinions in forensic disciplines. These include the opinions of firearm examiners, who are trained to identify firearms and other weapon-related evidence during criminal investigations. Dr Susan Vanderplas at the University of Nebraska Lincoln has recently introduced a new unifying approach for accurately calculating the error associated with firearm analyses. Her method could be applied in forensic laboratories worldwide, to improve the reliability of forensic evidence in criminal investigations.
For decades, linguists and psychologists have been trying to understand the fascinating ways in which humans communicate with each other in different real-world settings. Overall, spoken communication involves a mixture of words, facial expressions, and gestures. Dr Holly Keily, a researcher at the University at Buffalo, has recently carried out a study specifically exploring how speakers explain events to partners who will need to identify them, particularly focusing on their use of gestures.
Over recent decades, the use of digital technologies has increased exponentially worldwide, bringing significant changes to daily life. Like most societal transformations, this process of ‘digitalisation’ has had both positive and negative aspects. Dr Jens Allwood, Professor Emeritus at the University of Gothenburg, has recently published a paper exploring some of the darker elements of digitalisation, particularly focusing on its tendency to dehumanise our daily activities.
The broad dissemination of information online has made students more inclined to question what they are being taught in the classroom. Many educators are thus trying to adapt their teaching strategies to ensure that new generations successfully acquire new skills and learn new knowledge. Dr Brenton Fredericks, Head of the Communication Sciences Department at Central University of Technology in South Africa, recently developed a framework that could improve communication between educators and students in the classroom, promoting more constructive and effective learning.
Discovery of Neurotrophic Factor-α1 Reveals New Treatment Strategies for Stress-induced Neurodegenerative Diseases and Depression | Dr Y. Peng Loh
Stress produces numerous negative effects on the human body. Lying deep within the brain, one particularly sensitive area is the hippocampus, where chronic exposure to stress hormones can lead to the degeneration and death of neurons. Thankfully, the brain holds defence mechanisms that block some of these negative effects. Deciphering these mechanisms with the aim of better treating neurodegenerative diseases and depression is Dr Y. Peng Loh from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the USA.
Dr Pierre Galanaud, an immunologist from Paris-Saclay University and Inserm UMR 996, analysed historical tax records to investigate the impact of epidemics on recent emigrants who experienced the 15th century plagues in Dijon, France. His research highlights the vulnerability of emigrants with low economic status to epidemic-related mortality. More broadly, his work demonstrates the important role that migrants play in population growth and demographic recovery after an epidemic has taken place. These findings are of particular relevance given the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Technology has opened up new possibilities in the world of literature, by enabling the dissemination of artistic texts through digital media, and even by creating language-based art. John Cayley, Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University, was a pioneer of language-based digital art. Since the beginning of personal computing, he has been experimenting with the use of computer programs and algorithms to create poetry.
In recent decades, the population of urban areas worldwide has been growing exponentially. This includes Sydney, where 5 million inhabitants currently reside. Associate Professor Glen Searle at the University of Sydney recently explored how Sydney’s population growth is encouraged by national and state governments, and how it also drives important government decisions.
Professor Johann Walter | Is Market Neutrality Hindering the Sustainability of Eurozone Monetary Policies?
Professor Johann Walter of Westphalian University in Germany has carried out extensive research exploring the ways in which the Eurozone could become more sustainable. He argues that market neutrality should not be a key focus of the European Central Bank’s monetary policies.
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.
Humanity is facing many challenges, ranging from COVID-19 to climate change, and from natural resource depletion to social inequity. The Prince Mahidol Award Conference is an annual event held in Bangkok, where leaders and experts meet to discuss global challenges. This year, the theme was ‘The World We Want: Actions Towards a Sustainable, Fairer and Healthier Society’.
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