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11 news posts in Social science

US parents are aware of importance of play, but need to learn about the power of playful learning

Social science

15 Dec 2023

Parents underestimate the importance of guided play in education, finds US study

Researchers surveyed the views of 1,172 parents across the US about the relative educational value of free play, guided play, and games. The results showed that parents tend to rate free play as most educational, but work needs to be done in educating US parents about the difference between free and guided play.

Social science

26 Jan 2022

Scientists decode 450 years of boom and crisis in Europe from ages of building timber

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Roof truss of the Chapelle Saint-Denis in Marmoutier in Alsace, France, from the 16th century. Credit: Willy Tegel Scientists have reconstructed European socio-economic cycles between 1250 and 1699 in unprecedented detail, by using the power of tree rings to reveal the exact age of more than 54,000 pieces of timber from historical buildings. Tracking building activity across the years, estimated from felling year of timber from historical buildings, can yield an unrivaled economic record for premodern Europe. That is the conclusion from a vast study by a consortium of scientists across Europe, published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. By dating timber from tree rings – to the exact year of felling – from historical buildings, and statistically analyzing the distribution of building years, the authors deduce multiple periods of socio-economic prosperity and downturn between 1250 and 1699, independent from other historical data. Crucially, they show how different European regions were differentially affected, and at different times. When historical records are too scant to reconstruct large-scale demographic and societal changes, environmental measures can be used. For example, numbers of shipwrecks have been used in past research to chart trade intensity, pollen to reconstruct agricultural […]

Social science

24 Nov 2021

These personality traits may make you more prone to problematic binge-watching

By Peter Rejcek, science writer Image credit: Diego Cervo / Binge-watching is a modern phenomenon where TV viewers sit through two or more episodes of a series at one time. A growing body of research suggests there may be negative consequences to this behavior, similar to other addictive activities such as online gaming. Now, a new study has identified what personality traits and motivations may predict problematic binge-watching. Impulsivity and the motivation to escape are among the most significant factors that drive marathon viewing. Once upon a time, TV viewers had to wait patiently each week for a new episode of their favorite series to drop. Streaming services have upended that model, allowing unfettered access to an entire season-worth of episodes –  unleashing the phenomenon known as binge-watching. Recent research into the behavior suggests it may be similar to other addictive activities, for example online gaming. A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry identified what factors may help predict unhealthy binge-watching. While marathon viewing of multiple TV episodes has been around for decades, binge watching burst onto the scene with the popular streaming service Netflix. Since then, it has become a popular way to spend free […]

Social science

20 May 2021

‘Data is life!’: Meet a researcher shining a spotlight on racial inequality in academia

Image: Hyejin Kang/ To mark the launch of the new research topic entitled Dismantling racial inequalities in higher education, Prof Marcia Wilson of The Open University discusses how she fell in love with data and its ability to show racial injustice in higher education. Recent research has shown that, despite claims to the contrary, academia is not a meritocracy for black and minority ethnic (BME) students. Despite various efforts to tackle racial inequality in higher education across the globe, academics have shone a bright spotlight on the obvious disparity between grades received by people of color and white students. Now, in an effort to catalogue this inequality, Frontiers has launched a new Research Topic called ‘Dismantling racial inequalities in higher education’ led by topic editors Prof Marcia Wilson and Dr Jenny Douglas of The Open University in the UK. It is based on a series of group seminars held by the university for black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers at the university over the course of May. In relation to racial inequalities in higher education, a plethora of reports have identified the BME awarding gap and the experience of BME students in higher education; the lack of BME academics, particularly […]

Social science

19 Mar 2021

Tragedy of the Commons: The potential role of individualism in the spread of Covid-19

By Dr Yossi Maaravi, Adelson School of Entrepreneurship at IDC, Herzliya John David Photography / Dr Yossi Maaravi of the Adelson School of Entrepreneurship at IDC, Herzliya asks whether the phenomenon of social dilemmas and individualism resulted in worse outcomes for the Covid-19 pandemic?   Covid-19 is a real tragedy. But why did this tragedy hit some countries harder than others? While this question has recently been answered based on population age or health policy, a few months ago, my thoughts drifted to another possible explanation: ‘The tragedy of the commons’. A few months later, these thoughts led to research that has been recently published in Frontiers in Public Health. But the story of the inspiration for this research begins many years back. 16 years ago, when I was still a PhD student, I came across Garrett Hardin’s classic article, The Tragedy of the Commons. I was fascinated by the simple yet powerful phenomenon of social dilemmas described in this article. Social dilemmas are circumstances in which certain behaviors that serve the self-interest of every individual member of society might be harmful to the common good. YESSS!!! My new @FrontiersIn article is OUT!We rely on the "The Tragedy of […]

Social science

17 Sep 2020

Men and women experience similar rates of anxiety due to job insecurity

By Nora Belblidia, science writer Despite gender disparities in the workforce, male and female workers in Europe report similar rates of anxiety in response to job insecurity across countries. Economic stress and anxiety can contribute to poor mental health outcomes as more people work non-traditional jobs with little stability, and according to Dr. Egidio Riva, a co-author of the study investigating these trends, such effects need to be taken seriously by both governments and employers alike. As more people work temporary gigs with little protection, or fear layoffs in an unstable economy, job insecurity is on the rise. These stresses understandably contribute to poor mental health and feelings of anxiety. But given gender disparities in the workforce – women are more likely to work temporary jobs and receive lower pay – researchers were curious whether job insecurity affected men and women differently. A study published in Frontiers in Sociology analyzed data from the European Working Conditions Survey, looking at results from 2005, 2010, and 2015. The survey asked people to what extent they thought they might lose their job in the next six months and whether they had experienced anxiety over the last 12 months. The study found that, in […]