UW News

Social science


October 16, 2017

Tweeting rage: How immigration policies can polarize public discourse

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  Before a border wall became a budget bargaining chip, before the presidential pardon of a controversial sheriff and before federal policies were announced on social media, there was Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the “show me your papers” law. And of course, there was Twitter. To René D. Flores, an assistant professor of sociology at…


October 12, 2017

Using Facebook data as a real-time census

social media screen

    Determining how many people live in Seattle, perhaps of a certain age, perhaps from a specific country, is the sort of question that finds its answer in the census, a massive data dump for places across the country. But just how fresh is that data? After all, the census is updated once a…


October 11, 2017

In Seattle, cost of meeting basic needs up $30,000 in a decade

map of washington state with county boundaires

A Seattle family of four must bring in $75,000 annually to pay for basic housing, food, transportation and health and child care – an increase of 62 percent since 2006, based on a new report from the University of Washington. The city’s escalating cost of living may not be a surprise. But across the state,…


October 4, 2017

Asking kids about drugs doesn’t prompt drug use, study finds

A University of Washington study has found that asking preteens about substance use doesn't prompt them to try alcohol, tobacco or drugs.

    It is an oft-repeated fear, particularly among parents: that discussing an undesirable behavior, or even an illegal or dangerous one, may encourage kids to try it. But when it comes to asking pre-teens about alcohol, drug and tobacco use, a University of Washington-led study finds no evidence that children will, as a consequence…


September 26, 2017

Scientists come to the aid of Puerto Rican community, research station

The Cayo Santiago Research Station in Puerto Rico was heavily damaged by Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the buildings, feeding corrals, and all but one of the water cisterns necessary to support a free-ranging population of monkeys. A University of Washington faculty member is among the researchers who study there and are mobilizing a relief effort for the community.

    Researchers from the University of Washington and seven other institutions are working together to restore a Puerto Rican research station and its nearby community following the damage wrought last week by Hurricane Maria. The research station known as Monkey Island is located on Cayo Santiago, off the southeast coast of mainland Puerto Rico,…


September 14, 2017

Poverty decreases, income increases in Seattle area and Washington state

Census data released Sept. 14 show that poverty declined between 2015 and 2016 in Washington state and in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area, specifically.

The share of Washingtonians living in poverty dropped from 12.2 percent to 11.3 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to new Census data released Thursday. This is the third straight year that poverty has decreased since the post-recession high of 14.1 percent in 2013.


September 13, 2017

Offhand comments can expose underlying racism, UW study finds

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        Blatant racism is easy to identify — a shouted racial slur, a white supremacist rally, or the open discrimination, segregation and violence of the pre-civil rights era. But more subtle forms of bias, called microaggressions, emerge in the everyday exchanges among friends and strangers alike and can offend racial and ethnic…


September 7, 2017

Q&A | Sanne Knudsen: Consumers need more protection from chemicals and pesticides

Regulation of chemicals and pesticides effectively leave it to consumers to manage their own risk of exposure, writes Sanne Knudsen, a University of Washington associate professor of law.

  Sanne Knudsen was an undergraduate in Chicago when she got her first close-up look at environmental justice. As an environmental engineering student at Northwestern University, Knudsen answered an attorney’s call for volunteers to study several neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side, communities that had endured more than their share of pollution and exposure to chemicals….


September 5, 2017

Gun dealers, suicide-prevention advocates partner to save lives

Forefront logo

  With 80 percent of firearms deaths in Washington related to suicide, the scenario isn’t hard to imagine: A person thinking of ending their life enters a gun store to buy the means to do it. Unfortunately, other scenarios play out, as well: A person filling a lethal dose of a prescription medication at a…


How governments can maintain strong public-private partnerships: Guide from Evans School’s Justin Marlowe

Justin Marlowe's fourth -- and likely final -- guide to financial literacy was published in August by Governing magazine.

The biggest risk to public-private partnerships in governing is not financial or technical, but political, says UW Evans School professor Justin Marlowe in his fourth guide to financial literacy, published by Governing magazine.


August 28, 2017

Home prices up, supply down in second quarter of 2017

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Washington state’s housing market showed the continuing effects of high demand in the second quarter of 2017, according to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington The statewide median sales price rose to $337,700 in the second quarter, 6.6 percent higher than the same time period last year. This represents…


August 24, 2017

Lesbian, gay and bisexual older adults suffer more chronic health conditions than heterosexuals, study finds

A new University of Washington study funds that lesbian, gay and bisexual older adults are more likely than heterosexuals to suffer chronic health conditions.

  Lesbian and bisexual older women are more likely than heterosexual older women to suffer chronic health conditions, experience sleep problems and drink excessively, a new University of Washington study finds. In general, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) older adults were found to be in poorer health than heterosexuals, specifically in terms of higher rates…


August 17, 2017

Q & A: Sarah Quinn lifts the curtain on the ‘hidden state’

The general public is often confused about what the government is and does, University of Washington Sarah Quinn writes in a new anthology published by Cambridge University Press.

  Given today’s political climate, one might assume that terms like “administrative state” and “deep state” are merely examples of polarized rhetoric. But the wariness underlying those terms goes back much further, said Sarah Quinn, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Washington. Try colonial America. “Some historians will say this is something…


August 15, 2017

Evans School’s Scott Allard notes poverty’s changing landscape in ‘Places in Need’

"Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty" by Scott Allard was published by the Russell Sage Foundation.

The number of poor people living in America’s suburbs has more than doubled over the last 25 years, with little attention from academics or policymakers, says Scott W. Allard, a professor in the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, in his new 2017 book “Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty,”


August 3, 2017

Evans School researchers analyze Seattle’s competing arena proposals

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Researchers at the UW’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance have released a public finance analysis of two competing proposals to develop an NBA/NHL arena in Seattle.


July 31, 2017

University of Washington’s Livable City Year program completes inaugural partnership with Auburn

photo of downtown auburn

University of Washington students have been working with city of Auburn staff and community members throughout the past year on a wide range of projects tackling challenges around livability and sustainability in the city. Livable City Year is continuing in the 2017-2018 year in partnership with the city of Tacoma. These projects were part of the UW…


Heavier Asian Americans seen as ‘more American,’ study says

A University of Washington-led study has found that for Asian Americans, those who appear heavier not only are perceived to be more "American," but also may be subject to less prejudice directed at foreigners than Asian Americans who are thin.

  What makes people look “American”? The way they dress? Maybe their hairstyle, or mannerisms? How much they weigh? A University of Washington-led study has found that for Asian Americans, those who appear heavier not only are perceived to be more “American,” but also may be subject to less prejudice directed at foreigners than Asian…


July 27, 2017

Six UW faculty elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences

Suzzallo Library and Red Square on the University of Washington campus.

Six scientists and engineers from the University of Washington have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences.


Even babies can tell who’s the boss, UW research says

Videos featuring puppets introduced to toddlers the concept of social dominance.

This video acquaints the viewer with the puppets and introduces the idea of which is socially dominant.   The charismatic colleague, the natural leader, the life of the party – all are personal qualities that adults recognize instinctively. These socially dominant types, according to repeated studies, also tend to accomplish and earn more, from accolades…


July 20, 2017

Bringing a ‘trust but verify’ model to journal peer review

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In a commentary published in the journal Science, Carole Lee, associate professor of philosophy and co-author David Moher identify incentives that could encourage journals to “open the black box of peer review” for the sake of improving transparency.


July 19, 2017

Artifacts suggest humans arrived in Australia earlier than thought

These three axeheads and a square grinding stone were among the finds at Madjedbebe. A team that included researchers from the University of Washington dated artifacts from the dig site in Australia's Northern Territory.

  When and how the first humans made their way to Australia has been an evolving story. While it is accepted that humans appeared in Africa some 200,000 years ago, scientists in recent years have placed the approximate date of human settlement in Australia further and further back in time, as part of ongoing questions…


July 17, 2017

Bilingual babies: Study shows how exposure to a foreign language ignites infants’ learning

UW student Jinnie Yi works with a toddler at one of the participating infant education centers in Madrid. A study by the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences shows that infants and young children can develop bilingual skills through interactive learning.

  For years, scientists and parents alike have touted the benefits of introducing babies to two languages: Bilingual experience has been shown to improve cognitive abilities, especially problem-solving. And for infants raised in households where two languages are spoken, that bilingual learning happens almost effortlessly. But how can babies in monolingual households develop such skills?…


July 3, 2017

Q & A: Janelle Taylor on ‘exemplary friends’ of people with dementia

Janelle Taylor

Dementia affects millions of people around the world; the World Health Organization estimates 9.9 million new cases each year, and the total number of people with dementia is expected to nearly triple by 2050. And for every person with dementia, there are family members and friends who also experience their loved one’s decline. University of…


June 29, 2017

As metro areas grow, whites move farther from the city center

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    In the middle of the 20th century, cities began to change. The popularity of the automobile and the construction of interstate highways fueled the growth of suburbs, while discriminatory housing policies segregated neighborhoods and helped create the phenomenon of “white flight” away from downtowns. Decades later, the average white person still lives farther…


June 26, 2017

The New York Times recognizes UW student policy recommendations

photo of the four team members

Seeking to protect coastal communities from these devastating impacts, an interdisciplinary team of UW students authored a policy case for lawmakers. Their case won the inaugural APRU-New York Times Asia-Pacific Case Competition, besting submissions from 31 universities across the Americas, Asia and Australasia


June 16, 2017

What the bond between homeless people and their pets demonstrates about compassion

Spirit lives in Los Angeles with his two dogs. He is one of the homeless people featured in the My Dog is My Home exhibit.

A video camera captures an interview with a man named Spirit, who relaxes in an outdoor plaza on a sunny afternoon. Of his nearby service dogs, Kyya and Miniaga, he says, “They mean everything to me, and I mean everything to them.” In another video, three sweater-clad dogs scamper around a Los Angeles park, while…


June 13, 2017

Tribal gaming certificate addresses economic reality of Indian reservations

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Managing a casino might not be the first career path envisioned with a degree from the University of Washington. But 22 tribes across Washington state depend on tribal casino resorts to provide jobs, generate revenue to operate tribal governments and promote economic development. So for UW students who call those reservations home – or simply…


June 7, 2017

‘Scales of Struggle’: Historians of labor, working class to convene at UW

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Issues of social justice, incarceration and the politics of race and gender — past and present — will be the focus as hundreds of scholars, teachers, labor activists and artists gather at the UW June 22-25 for the annual conference of the Labor and Working-Class History Association.


June 1, 2017

Scientists launch global agenda to curb social and human rights abuses in the seafood sector

fishing boats in thailand

As the United Nations Oceans Conference convenes in New York, a new paper calls on marine scientists to focus on social issues such as human rights violations in the seafood industry


Why pot-smoking declines — but doesn’t end — with parenthood

Becoming a parent doesn't necessarily deter adults from smoking marijuana, a University of Washington study has found. Marijuana has been legal in Washington state since 2012.

  Adults who smoke marijuana often cut back after becoming parents — but they don’t necessarily quit. The influence of a significant other and positive attitudes toward the drug overall, in addition to the onset of parenthood, also are factors in whether someone uses marijuana. It’s a changing landscape for marijuana use, as laws ease…


May 31, 2017

Support for tidal energy is high among Washington residents

Puget Sound in Washington state.

A new University of Washington study finds that people who believe climate change is a problem and see economic, environmental and/or social benefits to using tidal energy are more likely to support such projects. Also, connecting pilot projects to the electricity grid is an important factor in garnering public support.


May 25, 2017

UW anthropologist: Why researchers should share computer code

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For years, scientists have discussed whether and how to share data from painstaking research and costly experiments. Some are further along in their efforts toward “open science” than others: Fields such as astronomy and oceanography, for example, involve such expensive and large-scale equipment and logistical challenges to data collection that collaboration among institutions has become…


May 18, 2017

Washington state house prices up 12.1 percent compared to the first quarter of last year

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Washington state’s housing market showed the continuing effects of high demand in the first quarter of 2017, according to the UW’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.


May 15, 2017

Code of conduct needed for ocean conservation, study says

fishermen in thailand

A diverse group of the world’s leading experts in marine conservation is calling for a Hippocratic Oath for ocean conservation ― not unlike the pledge physicians take to uphold specific ethical standards when practicing medicine.


Where you live may impact how much you drink

Neighborhoods with greater poverty and disorganization may play a greater role in problem drinking than the availability of bars and stores that sell hard liquor, a University of Washington-led study has found.

    Neighborhoods with greater poverty and disorganization may play a greater role in problem drinking than the availability of bars and stores that sell hard liquor, a University of Washington-led study has found. While there is evidence for the link between neighborhood poverty and alcohol use, the new twist — that socioeconomics are more…


May 11, 2017

Suicide prevention messages are top priority for UW’s Forefront

Sylvan Grove columns

University of Washington advocates for suicide prevention were busy pushing for legislation in Olympia, working on programs with more than a dozen local high schools and organizing the fourth annual Husky Help & Hope walk when an online TV show about suicide suddenly captivated a teenage audience. To the staff of UW-based Forefront: Innovations in…


May 9, 2017

Early human fossils found in South African cave system

This skull, part of a skeleton that scientists have named Neo, was found in the Lesedi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system in South Africa. Most of the bones in the middle of the face are intact, unlike another skull found in a nearby chamber of the cave system.

  An international team of scientists, including one from the University of Washington, has announced the discovery of additional remains of a new human species, Homo naledi, in a series of caves northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. The find includes the remains of two adults and a child in the Lesedi Chamber of the Rising…


May 3, 2017

UW School of Social Work to host May 9 event ‘How Shifting Federal Priorities Impact the Poor’

Photo by Katherine Turner.

For social service agencies, pinning down funding is par for the course. But there is heightened interest in the new administration’s priorities, and whether services to the poor will be among them. That lack of certainty — and a need to share information — prompted the University of Washington School of Social Work and the…


April 28, 2017

Class on Black Lives Matter examines ideas behind the slogan

UW January 2017 Campus Shots

At first, La TaSha Levy was worried her class on Black Lives Matter would be almost out of date. After all, who hasn’t seen the signs, heard the slogans, watched — or perhaps even participated in — marches to protest racism and violence against African Americans? But that was just it, realized Levy, a new…


April 27, 2017

Can early experiences with computers, robots increase STEM interest among young girls?

A young girl takes notice of a robot project at a college event promoting science to children.

Girls start believing they aren’t good at math, science and even computers at a young age — but providing fun STEM activities at school and home may spark interest and inspire confidence. A study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) finds that, when exposed to a computer-programming activity, 6-year-old…



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