UW Today

Social science


April 4, 2016

The Twittersphere does listen to the voice of reason — sometimes

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In the maelstrom of information, opinion and conjecture that is Twitter, the voice of truth and reason does occasionally prevail, according to a new study from UW researchers. Tweets from “official accounts” — the government agencies, emergency responders, media or companies at the center of a fast-moving story — can slow the spread of rumors on Twitter and correct misinformation that’s taken on a life of its own.


Bilingual baby brains show increased activity in executive function regions

Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, UW

Many brain studies show that bilingual adults have more activity in areas associated with executive function, a set of mental abilities that includes problem-solving, shifting attention and other desirable cognitive traits. Now new findings reveal that this bilingualism-related difference in brain activity is evident as early as 11 months of age, just as babies are…


April 1, 2016

To be sustainable, conservation needs to consider the human factor

The Salmon Dancer Canoe Family paddles along the shorelines of Swinomish.

The authors of a new paper in Science propose a set of social indicators that can be used to gauge how ecosystem management affects four essential factors in human lives: well-being, values, the ability to act purposefully and inequality. Considering such indicators, they note, serves not only to describe what exists but to define what is important in setting sustainability goals.


March 31, 2016

UW, gun-rights groups come together in new law to prevent suicide

ForefrontOlympiaDay

After her husband ended his life with a bullet in 2011, Jennifer Stuber went to the two Washington stores where he had bought guns to talk with the owners about suicide prevention. That bold move by Stuber, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work, eventually led to the passage of…


March 24, 2016

Study: Most tweets following fall Paris attacks defended Islam, Muslims

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The fall 2015 Paris terrorist attacks sparked heated social media debates about Islam. A researcher now with the UW Information School, with collaborators, analyzed millions of tweets after those attacks and found most tweets actually expressed support for Islam and Muslims.


March 21, 2016

Better safe than sorry: Babies make quick judgments about adults’ anger

Baby looks at people fighting, frightened

Adults often form fast opinions about each other’s personalities, especially when it comes to negative traits. If we see someone argue with another driver over a parking space, for instance, we may assume that person tends to be confrontational. Two new research studies with hundreds of 15-month-old infants demonstrate that babies form similar generalizations about…


March 15, 2016

Medicine, nursing programs top national rankings; dozens more UW programs highly rated

Gerberding Hall on Red Square. Seattle campus, December 26th, 2013. Photo by Katherine B. Turner

For the 22nd time in the past 23 years, the University of Washington ranked as the No. 1 primary care medical school in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best Graduate School rankings released Tuesday. The rural medicine and family medicine programs have also led the nation since those rankings began in 1992. In a…


March 11, 2016

Video contest challenges students to creatively define climate change

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The UW’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences is hosting its second-annual contest for undergraduate and high school students in Washington to create videos about what climate change means to them, in three minutes or less.


March 9, 2016

Quintard Taylor’s BlackPast.org history site gets redesign, first executive director

Chieko Phillips

BlackPast.org, the online reference guide to African-American history started by University of Washington history professor Quintard Taylor, is getting an executive director — Chieko Phillips — and a website redesign.


March 8, 2016

Family technology rules: What kids expect of parents

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A new UW study is among the first to explore children’s expectations for parents’ technology use — revealing kids’ feelings about fairness and “oversharing,” the most effective types of household technology rules and families’ most common approaches.


February 29, 2016

Doctor, patient expectations differ on fitness and lifestyle tracking

Image of phones with running apps

With apps and activity trackers measuring every step people take, morsel they eat, and each symptom or pain, patients commonly arrive at doctor’s offices armed with self-tracked data. Yet health care providers lack the capacity or tools to review five years of Fitbit logs or instantaneously interpret data patients have been collecting about themselves, according to new UW research.


February 26, 2016

Transgender children supported in their identities show positive mental health

Kristina Olson

Studies of mental health among transgender people in the United States have been consistently grim, showing higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. But almost nothing is known about the mental health of a new and growing generation of transgender Americans — prepubescent children who are living openly as transgender with the support of their…


February 25, 2016

Driverless cars could increase reliance on roads

Photo of driverless car

Driverless vehicles could intensify car use — reducing or even eliminating promised energy savings and environmental benefits, a new study co-authored by a University of Washington researcher finds. If people can work, relax and even hold meetings in their fully automated vehicles, they may drive more.


Herring fishery’s strength is in the sum of its parts, study finds

Pacific herring.

Just like a strong financial portfolio contains shares from different companies, the diverse subpopulations of herring from different bays and beaches around Puget Sound collectively keep the total population more stable, a new study finds.


February 22, 2016

University of Washington named a ‘top producer’ of Fulbright students

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The University of Washington is one of the top producers of Fulbright students for 2015-16, according to lists released Monday in the Chronicle of Higher Education.


February 18, 2016

David Levy addresses digital overload in ‘Mindful Tech’

"Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives" was published by Yale University Press.

David Levy of the UW Information School discusses his new book, “Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to our Digital Lives,” published in January by Yale University Press.


February 11, 2016

Male biology students consistently underestimate female peers, study finds

GirlInLab

Female college students are more likely to abandon studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines than their male classmates, and new research from the University of Washington suggests that those male peers may play a key role in undermining their confidence. Published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, the study found that…


February 4, 2016

‘Pushback’ against constant connectivity also reflected in images, study follow-up finds

In a follow-up to a 2014 study, Ricardo Gomez of the University of Washington Information School and co-authors have found that people's desire to retreat from a life of constant connectivity is expressed on the web in images as well and powerfully as in text.

People expressing the wish to resist constant online connectivity — dubbed “pushback” by University of Washington Information School researchers — is manifested as powerfully in images as in text, further study has found.


‘On-ramping’ paves the way for women scientists, engineers to return to academia

Photo of on ramp

Pursuing scientific or engineering careers in industry, government or private research after getting a Ph.D. used to be considered a one-way ticket out of academia. But new UW research finds numerous benefits — to students, researchers and academic institutions looking to diversify their faculty — in making that return trip easier.


February 1, 2016

UW hosts daylong public ‘teach-in’ on mass incarceration

NewJimCrow

The acclaimed 2012 book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” is the foundation for a daylong “teach-in” at the University of Washington Feb. 9. The event is titled “Perpetual Displacement and Bondage: Understanding Historical and Contemporary Intersections of Mass Incarceration, Racism, and Health.” It’s free and open to the public,…


January 28, 2016

Study shows U.S. has greater link between low birth weight and inequality

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Health disparities are common in developed countries, including the U.S., but at what age those inequities take root and how they vary between countries is less clear. New research from the University of Washington compares the link between income, education and low birth weight in the United States with those in three comparable countries: the…


Iowa caucuses: Expectations can trump votes, but will Trump meet expectations?

CNN News announces Mike Huckabee the winner of the 2008 Republican Iowa caucus. But winning Iowa does not always lead to the nomination, which that year went to Sen. John McCain.

In the Iowa caucuses, expectations are nearly as important as votes and front-runners must watch their backs, say University of Washington professors who are closely watching this year’s presidential race. The 2016 Iowa caucuses will be held Monday, Feb. 1, pitting Democratic leader Hillary Clinton against Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Martin O’Malley and Republican…


January 22, 2016

UW’s Forefront backs effort to engage gun dealers and pharmacies on suicide prevention

Forefront co-founder Jennifer Stuber

Patty Yamashita was a vivacious, sweet, high-energy woman who balanced a career as an IT manager with a steadfast dedication to her family. She worked long hours but was always home to put dinner on the table and read a bedtime story for her children. “My mother was my hero,” said her son, David. “Usually…


January 5, 2016

Study: College graduates often challenged with life skills, motivation for ongoing learning

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Today’s college graduates tend to be highly trained and employable but often lack a key skill needed for post-college life: how to identify and ask their own questions, according to a new study.


January 4, 2016

UW class pairs students and inmates for unique learning experience

Inmate Arthur Longworth, left, talks with UW students (from left) Kathryn Joy, Meron Fikru and Emily Krueger.

On a rainy December afternoon, a group of students in the University of Washington’s Law, Societies & Justice program sit in a classroom discussing what elements might be included in a restorative justice program. The conversation is lively, the comments thoughtful. But this isn’t any ordinary classroom, and it isn’t your usual group of university…


December 29, 2015

#BestofUW: Top news stories of 2015

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From a new president and lasers cooling liquids to spotting rare sea creatures and major collaborations, great things have happened at the University of Washington in 2015. Here’s a look back at the top stories of the year. These stories were chosen based on the total number of views they received on our website and are not in any particular order….


No easy answers in UW study of legal marijuana’s impact on alcohol use

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Does legal marijuana tempt pot users to consume more alcohol — or are they likely to opt for cannabis instead of chardonnay? A University of Washington team of researchers sought to address those questions in the context of evolving marijuana policies in the United States. Their findings, published online Dec. 21 in the journal Alcoholism:…


December 17, 2015

Study: Safety net fails impoverished grandmothers raising children

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Increasing numbers of grandmothers across the United States are raising their grandchildren, many of them living in poverty and grappling with a public assistance system not designed to meet their needs. LaShawnDa Pittman, an assistant professor in the University of Washington’s Department of American Ethnic Studies, interviewed 77 African American grandmothers living in some of…


December 15, 2015

Fuel economy improvements in US climate commitment on par with 1970s gains

Photo of 1970s Datsun ad

A new UW study finds that fuel efficiency improvements needed to meet U.S. climate commitments are on par with what the auto industry delivered in the 1970s and 1980s.


Forefront launches suicide prevention effort in three rural Washington counties

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Suicide is a tough issue to broach. How could an adult know if a child in the community might be suicidal and when to intervene? Is it appropriate to ask a friends or colleagues if they’re considering suicide? If someone is in crisis, what’s the best way to respond? Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention hopes…


December 14, 2015

Seattle’s Ballard is ripe for green-space restoration, new report says

A vacant lot at Northwest 65th Street and 7th Avenue Northwest in the West Woodland section of Ballard.

A University of Washington graduate student saw green-starved Ballard as an opportunity to call attention to areas in the neighborhood that have restoration potential. Her new report, the “Ballard Green Spaces Project,” identifies 55 sites that could be restored as natural areas for people and wildlife, increasing the neighborhood’s total amount of accessible green spaces.


History meets geography: James Gregory’s collaborative digital project tracks key 20th century social movements

James Gregory

UW historian James Gregory’s new collaborative digital project, “Mapping American Social Movements through the 20th Century” uses data visualization and interactive maps to depict the progress of various social movements — with more to come.


December 8, 2015

Culture wars, Christianity at heart of UW political scientist Mark Smith’s book ‘Secular Faith’

Mark A. Smith's "Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics" was published in September by University of Chicago Press.

Mark A. Smith is a University of Washington professor of political science and adjunct professor of comparative religion. He is the author of “Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics,” published in September by University of Chicago Press. He answered a few questions about his book for UW Today. What’s the concept…


December 4, 2015

UW project focuses on fines and fees that create ‘prisoners of debt’

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Criminals are meant to pay their debts to society through sentencing, but a different type of court-imposed debt can tie them to the criminal justice system for life and impact their ability to move forward with their lives. Though debtors’ prisons were eliminated in the United States almost two centuries ago, a modern-day version exists…


December 1, 2015

UW roboticists learn to teach robots from babies

photos of gaze experiments

A collaboration between University of Washington developmental psychologists and computer scientists has demonstrated that robots can “learn” much like babies – by experiencing the world and eventually imitating humans.


November 30, 2015

UW researchers estimate poverty and wealth from cell phone metadata

The northern and western provinces are divided into cells (the smallest administrative unit of the country), and the cell is shaded according to the average (predicted) wealth of all mobile subscribers in that cell. The southern province is overlaid with a Voronoi diagram that uses geographic identifiers in the call data to divide the region into several hundred thousand small partitions, which each may be as small as a household or a microvillage.

In developing or war-ravaged countries where government censuses are few and far between, gathering data for public services or policymaking can be difficult, dangerous or near-impossible. Big data is, after all, mainly a First World opportunity. But cell towers are easier to install than telephone land lines, even in such challenged areas, and mobile or…


November 25, 2015

The spillover effect: Good teaching doesn’t stop at the classroom door

Jirka Matousek/Flickr

Effective teachers don’t just impact their own students’ achievement, they can significantly improve the performance of their fellow teachers’ students, new research shows.


November 23, 2015

AAAS names four UW researchers as fellows

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Four University of Washington researchers are among 347 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2015.


November 6, 2015

UW women studies department marks 45th anniversary

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Nancy Kenney came to the University of Washington in 1976 with a joint appointment in psychology and women studies. The arrangement was typical — women studies professors at the UW then had joint appointments, Kenney said, because the program wasn’t expected to be around long. “Women studies was not expected to be a viable academic…


November 4, 2015

Krispy Kreme crack and luxury food fever: new book links overeating to consumer culture

Overeating

In an era of Fitbits, Skinnygirl margaritas and kale mania, isn’t overeating simply a failure of willpower, an unwillingness or inability to make good choices? It’s not that simple, says Kima Cargill, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Washington in Tacoma. In her new book “The Psychology of Overeating,” Cargill places the…



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