American Geophysical Union study: Warmer winter temperatures linked to increased crime

18 Nov

Ohio State Researchers wrote about the impact of climate on crime in How does climate affect violence? Researchers offer new theory:

Researchers have long struggled to explain why some violent crime rates are higher near the equator than other parts of the world. Now, a team of researchers have developed a model that could help explain why.
This new model goes beyond the simple fact that hotter temperatures seem to be linked to more aggressive behavior.
The researchers believe that hot climates and less variation in seasonal temperatures leads to a faster life strategy, less focus on the future, and less self-control – all of which contribute to more aggression and violence….
Paul van Lange, lead author of the study and a professor of psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) added, “We believe our model can help explain the impact of climate on rates of violence in different parts of the world….”

The CLASH model states that it is not just hotter temperatures that lead to more violence – it is also climates that have less seasonal variation in temperature.
“Less variation in temperature, combined with heat, brings some measure of consistency to daily life”, Rinderu said.
That means there is less need to plan for large swings between warm and cold weather. The result is a faster life strategy that isn’t as concerned about the future and leads to less need for self-control.
“Strong seasonal variation in temperature affects culture in powerful ways. Planning in agriculture, hoarding, or simply preparing for cold winters shapes the culture in many ways, often with people not even noticing it. But it does shape how much a culture values time and self-control,” Van Lange said.
“If there is less variation, you’re freer to do what you want now, because you’re not preparing foods or chopping firewood or making winter clothes to get you through the winter. You also may be more concerned with the immediate stress that comes along with parasites and other risks of hot climates, such as venomous animals.”
People living in these climates are oriented to the present rather than the future and have a fast life strategy – they do things now.
“We see evidence of a faster life strategy in hotter climates with less temperature variation – they are less strict about time, they have less use of birth control, they have children earlier and more often,” Bushman said.
With a faster life strategy and an orientation toward the present, people have to practice less self-control, he said. That can lead people to react more quickly with aggression and sometimes violence.
The theory is not deterministic and isn’t meant to suggest that people in hotter, consistent climates can’t help themselves when it comes to violence and aggression…. https://news.osu.edu/how-does-climate-affect-violence-researchers-offer-new-theory/

The American Geophysical Union studied the link between temperature and crime.

Science Daily reported in Warmer winter temperatures linked to increased crime:

Milder winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States over the past several decades, according to new research that suggests crime is related to temperature’s effect on daily activities.
A new study published in GeoHealth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, finds U.S. crime rates are linked to warmer temperatures, and this relationship follows a seasonal pattern.
The findings support the theory that three major ingredients come together to bring about crime: a motivated offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a guardian to prevent a violation of the law. During certain seasons, namely winter, milder weather conditions increase the likelihood these three elements come together, and that violent and property crimes will take place, according to the new study. Unexpectedly, warmer summer temperatures were not linked with higher crime rates.
The new research abates existing theories that hot temperatures drive aggressive motivation and behavior, according to the study’s authors. Instead, the new research suggests crime is related to the way climate alters people’s daily activities.
“We were expecting to find a more consistent relationship between temperature and crime, but we weren’t really expecting that relationship to be changing over the course of the year,” said Ryan Harp, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “That ended up being a pretty big revelation for us.”
Understanding how climate affects crime rates could expand the boundaries of what scientists would consider to be a climate and health connection, Harp said.
“Ultimately, it’s a health impact,” he said. “The relationship between climate, human interaction, and crime that we’ve unveiled is something that will have an impact on people’s wellbeing.”
Regional climate affects human interaction
Previous studies have found a link between temperature and the incidence of crime, but none have looked at the relationship on a regional level and only some have controlled for underlying seasonal changes, allowing researchers to identify the potential underlying mechanism…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181113110411.htm

Citation:

Warmer winter temperatures linked to increased crime
Date: November 13, 2018
Source: American Geophysical Union
Summary:
Milder winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States over the past several decades, according to new research that suggests crime is related to temperature’s effect on daily activities.
Journal Reference:
Ryan D. Harp, Kristopher B. Karnauskas. The Influence of Interannual Climate Variability on Regional Violent Crime Rates in the United States. GeoHealth, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2018GH000152

Here is the press release from the American Geophysical Union:

WARMER WINTER TEMPERATURES LINKED TO INCREASED CRIME, STUDY FINDS
13 November 2018
WASHINGTON — Milder winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States over the past several decades, according to new research that suggests crime is related to temperature’s effect on daily activities.
A new study published in GeoHealth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, finds U.S. crime rates are linked to warmer temperatures, and this relationship follows a seasonal pattern.
The findings support the theory that three major ingredients come together to bring about crime: a motivated offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a guardian to prevent a violation of the law. During certain seasons, namely winter, milder weather conditions increase the likelihood these three elements come together, and that violent and property crimes will take place, according to the new study. Unexpectedly, warmer summer temperatures were not linked with higher crime rates.
The new research abates existing theories that hot temperatures drive aggressive motivation and behavior, according to the study’s authors. Instead, the new research suggests crime is related to the way climate alters people’s daily activities.
“We were expecting to find a more consistent relationship between temperature and crime, but we weren’t really expecting that relationship to be changing over the course of the year,” said Ryan Harp, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “That ended up being a pretty big revelation for us.”
Understanding how climate affects crime rates could expand the boundaries of what scientists would consider to be a climate and health connection, Harp said.
“Ultimately, it’s a health impact,” he said. “The relationship between climate, human interaction, and crime that we’ve unveiled is something that will have an impact on people’s wellbeing.”
Regional climate affects human interaction
Previous studies have found a link between temperature and the incidence of crime, but none have looked at the relationship on a regional level and only some have controlled for underlying seasonal changes, allowing researchers to identify the potential underlying mechanism.
In the new study, Harp and his co-author conducted a systematic investigation into the relationship between large-scale climate variability and regionally-aggregated crime rates, using a technique that allowed them to group together detailed spatial data on seasonal temperature and crime rates from across the United States.
They compared crime and climate data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). The data encompassed 16,000 cities across five defined US regions—Northeast, Southeast, South Central, West, and Midwest—from 1979 to 2016.
Their finding that violent crime is almost always more prevalent when temperatures are warmer in the winter months was especially notable in areas with the strongest winters, like the Midwest and Northeast, according to the researchers.
The new findings showing that increasing temperatures matter more in the winter than in the summer is interesting, said Marshall Burke, assistant professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University, who was not involved with the new study.
“The authors rightly suggest that this is more consistent with warmer temperatures altering people’s patterns of activity, like going outside more, than a physiological story about temperature and aggression,” he said.
The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing 60,000 members in 137 countries. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our other social media channels.

There are various theories regarding why individuals commit crimes.

Steven Briggs wrote in Important Theories in Criminology: Why People Commit Crime:
Here is a broad overview of some key theories:

• Rational choice theory: People generally act in their self-interest and make decisions to commit crime after weighing the potential risks (including getting caught and punished) against the rewards.
• Social disorganization theory: A person’s physical and social environments are primarily responsible for the behavioral choices that person makes. In particular, a neighborhood that has fraying social structures is more likely to have high crime rates. Such a neighborhood may have poor schools, vacant and vandalized buildings, high unemployment, and a mix of commercial and residential property.
• Strain theory: Most people have similar aspirations, but they don’t all have the same opportunities or abilities. When people fail to achieve society’s expectations through approved means such as hard work and delayed gratification, they may attempt to achieve success through crime.
• Social learning theory: People develop motivation to commit crime and the skills to commit crime through the people they associate with.
• Social control theory: Most people would commit crime if not for the controls that society places on individuals through institutions such as schools, workplaces, churches, and families.
• Labeling theory: People in power decide what acts are crimes, and the act of labeling someone a criminal is what makes him a criminal. Once a person is labeled a criminal, society takes away his opportunities, which may ultimately lead to more criminal behavior.
• Biology, genetics, and evolution: Poor diet, mental illness, bad brain chemistry, and even evolutionary rewards for aggressive criminal conduct have been proposed as explanations for crime. https://www.dummies.com/education/psychology/important-theories-in-criminology-why-people-commit-crime/
One crime reduction strategy is predictive policing.
The National Institute of Justice described predictive policing:
Overview of Predictive Policing
Law enforcement work is frequently reactive: Officers respond to calls for service, quell disturbances and make arrests. Today more than ever, law enforcement work is also proactive.
In proactive policing, law enforcement uses data and analyzes patterns to understand the nature of a problem. Officers devise strategies and tactics to prevent or mitigate future harm. They evaluate results and revise practices to improve policing. Departments may combine an array of data with street intelligence and crime analysis to produce better assessments about what might happen next if they take various actions.
What Is Predictive Policing?
Predictive policing tries to harness the power of information, geospatial technologies and evidence-based intervention models to reduce crime and improve public safety. This two-pronged approach — applying advanced analytics to various data sets, in conjunction with intervention models — can move law enforcement from reacting to crimes into the realm of predicting what and where something is likely to happen and deploying resources accordingly.
The predictive policing approach does not replace traditional policing. Instead, it enhances existing approaches such as problem-oriented policing, community policing, intelligence-led policing and hot spot policing.
Predictive policing leverages computer models — such as those used in the business industry to anticipate how market conditions or industry trends will evolve over time — for law enforcement purposes, namely anticipating likely crime events and informing actions to prevent crime. Predictions can focus on variables such as places, people, groups or incidents. Demographic trends, parolee populations and economic conditions may all affect crime rates in particular areas. Using models supported by prior crime and environmental data to inform different kinds of interventions can help police reduce the number of crime incidents…. https://www.nij.gov/topics/law-enforcement/strategies/predictive-policing/Pages/welcome.aspx
Learn more about NIJ’s predictive policing and geospatial police strategies research. https://www.nij.gov/topics/law-enforcement/strategies/predictive-policing/Pages/research.aspx

Crime reduction strategy is based upon a variety of factors which affect the crime reduction strategy used in a particular locale.

Resources:

Crime & Crime Prevention: Community Crime Prevention Strategies https://www.crimesolutions.gov/TopicDetails.aspx?ID=10

5 Common-Sense Ideas to Combat Crime https://www.citylab.com/equity/2013/05/5-common-sense-ideas-combat-crime/5527/

Effective Crime Reduction Strategy Includes Prisoner Re-Entry https://www.justice.gov/usao-edmi/archived-district-reports/effective-crime-reduction-strategy

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Swansea University study: Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism

12 Nov

Lisa Firestone Ph.D. wrote in the Psychology Today article, Is Social Media to Blame For the Rise In Narcissism?

So who’s to blame for this generational increase in narcissism?
Can we pin the tail on Mark Zuckerberg and the advent of Facebook? Over the last couple years, a plethora of research has been pouring in that makes connections between Facebook and narcissism. Studies are consistently finding that people who score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire tend to have more friends on Facebook, tag themselves more often in photos and update their statuses more frequently. According to Laura Buffadi, a postdoctoral researcher at the Universidad de Dueto in Bilbao, Spain, “Narcissists use Facebook and other social networking sites because they believe others are interested in what they’re doing, and they want others to know what they are doing.”
In general, social media websites encourage self-promotion, as users generate all of the content. W. Keith Campbell explains that people often utilize Facebook “to look important, look special and to gain attention and status and self-esteem.” The trouble with this aspect of social networking is that nearly everyone presents an unrealistic portrait of themselves. Just as people select the most attractive photos of themselves to use as profile pictures, they tend to populate their newsfeeds with the most attractive bits of news about themselves. Of course, this is not always the case, but the unrealistically sunny picture that so many social networkers paint can have a negative psychological effect on their friends or followers. Recent studies of undergraduates across the country have shown that “students who were more involved with Facebook were more likely to think other people’s lives were happier and better.” These heavy Facebook users were also more likely to negatively compare themselves to others and feel worse about themselves.
While Facebook is certainly a platform for narcissists, it is a mistake to assume that Facebook alone has caused this spike in narcissism. As researcher Shawn Bergman pointed out, “There is a significant amount of psychological research that shows that one’s personality is fairly well-established by age 7,” given that Facebook’s policy doesn’t allow users to register until age 13 “the personality traits of typical users are fairly well-ingrained by the time they get on a social network.”
The truth is the rise in narcissism among millennials may have less to do with our social networks online and more to do with our social networks at home. Throughout the last few decades, there has been an increase in parental coddling and the so-called “self-esteem” movement. Parents and teachers trying to instill a healthy sense of self-esteem in children by praising them lavishly often do more harm than good. In fact, studies show that children offered compliments for a skill they have not mastered or talents that they do not have are left feeling emptier and more insecure. Only when children are praised for real accomplishments are they able to build actual self-esteem. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201211/is-social-media-blame-the-rise-in-narcissism

The question most want to ask about narcissists is, are they bad people?

Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D. wrote in the Psychology Today article, Are Narcissists Bad People? Do they choose to hurt other people or are they unable to control themselves?

Most of the hurt that narcissists cause is the result of two basic sets of issues:
1. The need to retaliate to protect their self-esteem
Blame and retaliation: During any sort of disagreement, or even a fairly neutral situation, as soon as narcissists start to feel bad, they are likely to see whomever they are with as responsible for their discomfort. They quickly move from blaming the other person to angrily retaliating.
Justification: They feel justified because without whole object relations or object constancy, they now see the other person as the all-bad enemy. In addition, they have temporarily lost touch with any positive past history between them and the other person.
Fragile self-esteem: Their fragile self-esteem makes it extremely painful for them to become aware of their part in causing a fight. They do not even try to see how they might be at fault because that would pierce their narcissistic defenses and result in them feeling imperfect and deeply shamed.
Difficulty apologizing: After they calm down, they may realize that they over-reacted and regret it. Unfortunately, their underlying shaky self-esteem makes it very unlikely they will admit they were wrong and apologize. Instead, they are likely to make a reparative gesture, such as giving the person a present.
However, if the other person wants to talk about what happened, they are likely to become very defensive and feel attacked. Then the cycle of blame and retaliation and reparation may start all over again.
2. Self-centeredness and lack of emotional empathy
Narcissists often unintentionally do things that hurt other people because they are so self-centered and lack emotional empathy. For example, they may make fun of you in front of other people and just think they are being funny. Or you may tell them that you have a stomach virus and instead of sympathizing, they tell you that they had one much worse than yours.
How do we judge them?
Do we give them a free pass to hurt other people because they have a narcissistic personality disorder? I would not. At the very least, most well-intentioned people with NPD:
• Know that they are selfish.
• Know that other people are getting hurt by them.
• Know psychotherapy exists and most are choosing not to go for help to change.
• Have been told that what they are doing is hurtful and continue doing it anyway.
But: This subset of narcissists are not setting out to hurt other people on purpose…. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/201810/are-narcissists-bad-people

Researchers are studying the intersection of personality disorders and social media.

Science Daily reported in Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism:

A new study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism.
Published in The Open Psychology Journal, researchers from Swansea University and Milan University studied personality changes of 74 individuals aged 18 to 34 over a four-month period.
They also assessed the participants’ usage of social media — including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat — during that same period.
Narcissism is a personality characteristic that can involve grandiose exhibitionism, beliefs relating to entitlement, and exploiting others.
Those who used social media excessively, through visual postings, displayed an average 25% increase in such narcissistic traits over the four months of the study.
This increase took many of these participants above the clinical cut-off for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the measurement scale used.
The study also found that those who primarily used social media for verbal postings, such as Twitter, did not show these effects.
However, for this group of people, their initial levels of narcissism predicted a growth in this form of social media usage over time. The more narcissistic they were to begin with, the more verbal postings they made later.
All but one of the people in the study used social media, and their average use was about three hours a day, excluding usage for work, but some reported using social media for as much as eight hours a day for non-work related purposes.
Facebook was used by 60% of the sample, 25% used Instagram, and 13% used Twitter and Snapchat each. Over two thirds of the participants primarily used social media for posting images…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181109112655.htm

Citation:

Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism
Date: November 9, 2018
Source: Swansea University
Summary:
A new study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism by an average of 25 percent.

Journal Reference:
Phil Reed, Nazli I. Bircek, Lisa A. Osborne, Caterina Viganò, Roberto Truzoli. Visual Social Media Use Moderates the Relationship between Initial Problematic Internet Use and Later Narcissism. The Open Psychology Journal, 2018; 11 (1): 163 DOI: 10.2174/1874350101811010163

Here is the press release from Swansea University:

Excessive posting of photos on social media is associated with increase in narcissism
A new study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism.
Researchers from Swansea University and Milan University studied personality changes of 74 individuals aged 18 to 34 over a four-month period. They also assessed the participants’ usage of social media – including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat – during that same period.
The work was published in The Open Psychology Journal.
Narcissism is a personality characteristic that can involve grandiose exhibitionism, beliefs relating to entitlement, and exploiting others.
Those who used social media excessively, through visual postings, displayed an average 25% increase in such narcissistic traits over the four months of the study.
This increase took many of these participants above the clinical cut-off for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the measurement scale used.
Read the research paper
The study also found that those who primarily used social media for verbal postings, such as Twitter, did not show these effects. However, for this group of people, their initial levels of narcissism predicted a growth in this form of social media usage over time. The more narcissistic they were to begin with, the more verbal postings they made later.
All but one of the people in the study used social media, and their average use was about three hours a day, excluding usage for work, but some reported using social media for as much as eight hours a day for non-work related purposes.
Facebook was used by 60% of the sample, 25% used Instagram, and 13% used Twitter and Snapchat each. Over two thirds of the participants primarily used social media for posting images.
Professor Phil Reed from the Department of Psychology at Swansea University, who led the study, said:
“There have been suggestions of links between narcissism and the use of visual postings on social media, such as Facebook, but, until this study, it was not known if narcissists use this form of social media more, or whether using such platforms is associated with the subsequent growth in narcissism.
“The results of this study suggest that both occur, but show that posting selfies can increase narcissism.
“Taking our sample as representative of the population, which there is no reason to doubt, this means that about 20% of people may be at risk of developing such narcissistic traits associated with their excessive visual social media use.
“That the predominant usage of social media for the participants was visual, mainly through Facebook, suggests the growth of this personality problem could be seen increasingly more often, unless we recognise the dangers in this form of communication.”
Professor Roberto Truzoli from Milan University added:
“The use of visual social media may emphasise the perception of narcissistic individuals that they are the main focus of attention.
“The lack of immediate ‘direct’ social censure, may offer them the opportunity to inflict aspects of their narcissistic personality, present themselves in a grandiose manner, and realise fantasies of omnipotence.”
The study was conducted by Professor Phil Reed and Nazli Bircek from Swansea University, Dr. Lisa Osborne from the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, and Dr. Caterina Viganò and Professor Roberto Truzoli from Milan University.
Find out about research in the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University

Posted by Ben Donovan
Friday 9 November 2018 09.45 GMT
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The healthy use of social media must be determined by each individual’

Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D., M.B.A. wrote in the Psychology Today article, The Healthy Use of Social Media: Start with your goals. Is your social media use helping or hurting them?

Balance is key
While research does not support the fears about social media causing “addiction”, destroying empathy and social skills or turning a generation into narcissists, doing any one thing to the exclusion of others can create challenges. If you feel harrassed and overwhelmed by information overload or pressure from all that connectivity:
• Take the time to identify your larger goals, such as success at work or school, good relationships, or personal development.
• Evaluate your social media use and determine if it’s helping you meet those goals–keep a social media diary for a few days to learn what you use, when you use it and how it makes you feel
• Remember that you are the boss of your technology, not the other way around. Just because something rings or buzzes, doesn’t mean you have to answer
• Give youself permission to take a technology break from time to time and remind yourself what it feels like to be unplugged
• How you use your social media and mobile tools is unique to you and your goals. Don’t use others’ behavior to determine yours https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/positively-media/201310/the-healthy-use-social-media

While technology has advanced many aspects of civilization and made many tasks easier, its impact on social engagement and individual personality development may not be as salutatory.

“To know a species, look at its fears. To know yourself, look at your fears. Fear in itself is not important, but fear stands there and points you in the direction of things that are important. Don’t be afraid of your fears, they’re not there to scare you; they’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
C. Joy Bell C.

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Stanford Medicine study: Older fathers associated with increased birth risks, study reports

8 Nov

Typically, older mothers are the subject of risk factor analysis for pregnancy after 35. The Mayo Clinic staff wrote in Pregnancy after 35: Healthy moms, healthy babies:

Understand the risks
The biological clock is a fact of life, but there’s nothing magical about age 35. It’s simply an age at which various risks become more discussion worthy. For example:
• It might take longer to get pregnant. You’re born with a limited number of eggs. As you reach your mid- to late 30s, your eggs decrease in quantity and quality. Also, older women’s eggs aren’t fertilized as easily as younger women’s eggs. If you are older than age 35 and haven’t been able to conceive for six months, consider asking your health care provider for advice.
• You’re more likely to have a multiple pregnancy. The chance of having twins increases with age due to hormonal changes that could cause the release of multiple eggs at the same time. The use of assisted reproductive technologies — such as in vitro fertilization — also can play a role.
• You’re more likely to develop gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes, which occurs only during pregnancy, is more common as women get older. Tight control of blood sugar through diet and physical activity is essential. Sometimes medication is needed, too. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause a baby to grow significantly larger than average — which increases the risk of injuries during delivery. Gestational diabetes can also increase the risk of premature birth, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and complications to your infant after delivery.
• You’re more likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. Research suggests high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy is more common in older women. Your health care provider will carefully monitor your blood pressure and your baby’s growth and development. You will need more frequent obstetric appointments and you might need to deliver before your due date to avoid complications.
• You’re more likely to have a low birth weight baby and a premature birth. Premature babies, especially those born earliest, often have complicated medical problems.
• You might need a C-section. Older mothers have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications that might lead to a C-section delivery. An example of a complication is a condition in which the placenta blocks the cervix (placenta previa).
• The risk of chromosome abnormalities is higher. Babies born to older mothers have a higher risk of certain chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome.
• The risk of pregnancy loss is higher. The risk of pregnancy loss — by miscarriage and stillbirth — increases as you get older, perhaps due to pre-existing medical conditions or fetal chromosomal abnormalities. Research suggests that the decrease in the quality of your eggs, combined with an increased risk of chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, could increase your risk of miscarriage. Ask your health care provider about monitoring your baby’s well-being during the last weeks of pregnancy.
While further research is needed, studies suggest that men’s ages at the time of conception — the paternal age — also might pose health risks for children…. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20045756

Stanford Medicine studied the risk factors associated with older fathers.

Science Daily reported in Older fathers associated with increased birth risks, study reports:

A decade of data documenting live births in the United States links babies of older fathers with a variety of increased risks at birth, including low birth weight and seizures, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The data even suggest that the age of the father can sway the health of the mother during pregnancy, specifically her risk for developing diabetes.
“We tend to look at maternal factors in evaluating associated birth risks, but this study shows that having a healthy baby is a team sport, and the father’s age contributes to the baby’s health, too,” said Michael Eisenberg, MD, associate professor of urology.
Data from more than 40 million births showed that babies born to fathers of an “advanced paternal age,” which roughly equates to older than 35, were at a higher risk for adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, seizures and need for ventilation immediately after birth. Generally speaking, the older a father’s age, the greater the risk. For example, men who were 45 or older were 14 percent more likely to have a child born prematurely, and men 50 or older were 28 percent more likely to have a child that required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.
Still, these numbers aren’t reason to drastically change any life plans, as the risks are still relatively low, Eisenberg said. He compared the increased risks to buying lottery tickets. “If you buy two lottery tickets instead of one, your chances of winning double, so it’s increased by 100 percent,” he said. “But that’s a relative increase. Because your chance of winning the lottery started very small, it’s still unlikely that you’re going to win the lottery. This is a very extreme example, but the same concept can be applied to how you think about these birth risks.”
Instead, Eisenberg sees the findings as informational ammunition for people planning a family and hopes that they will serve to educate the public and health officials.
A paper describing the study will be published online Nov. 1 in the The British Medical Journal. Eisenberg is the senior author. Resident physician Yash Khandwala, MD, is the lead author…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181101133759.htm

See, Pregnancy at Dr. Wilda https://drwilda.com/tag/pregnancy/

Citation:

Older fathers associated with increased birth risks, study reports
Date: November 1, 2018
Source: Stanford Medicine
Summary:
A decade of data documenting live births in the United States links babies of older fathers with a variety of increased risks at birth, including low birth weight and seizures, according to a new study.

Infants of older fathers are at greater risk of birth complications
BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4595 (Published 01 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4595
Linked research
Association of paternal age with perinatal outcomes
Paternal factors in preconception care: the case of paternal age
BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4466 (Published 31 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4466

Here is the press release from Stanford Medicine:

Older fathers associated with increased birth risks

From the data of more than 40 million births, scientists at Stanford have linked paternal age to birth risks, and even risks to the mother’s health.
A decade of data documenting live births in the United States links babies of older fathers with a variety of increased risks at birth, including low birth weight and seizures, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The data even suggest that the age of the father can sway the health of the mother during pregnancy, specifically her risk for developing diabetes.
“We tend to look at maternal factors in evaluating associated birth risks, but this study shows that having a healthy baby is a team sport, and the father’s age contributes to the baby’s health, too,” said Michael Eisenberg, MD, associate professor of urology.
Data from more than 40 million births showed that babies born to fathers of an “advanced paternal age,” which roughly equates to older than 35, were at a higher risk for adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, seizures and need for ventilation immediately after birth. Generally speaking, the older a father’s age, the greater the risk. For example, men who were 45 or older were 14 percent more likely to have a child born prematurely, and men 50 or older were 28 percent more likely to have a child that required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.
Still, these numbers aren’t reason to drastically change any life plans, as the risks are still relatively low, Eisenberg said. He compared the increased risks to buying lottery tickets. “If you buy two lottery tickets instead of one, your chances of winning double, so it’s increased by 100 percent,” he said. “But that’s a relative increase. Because your chance of winning the lottery started very small, it’s still unlikely that you’re going to win the lottery. This is a very extreme example, but the same concept can be applied to how you think about these birth risks.”
Instead, Eisenberg sees the findings as informational ammunition for people planning a family and hopes that they will serve to educate the public and health officials.
A paper describing the study was published online Nov. 1 in the British Medical Journal. Eisenberg is the senior author. Resident physician Yash Khandwala, MD, is the lead author.
Increased risks at 35
Back in 2017, Eisenberg published a study showing that the number of older men fathering children was on the rise. Now, about 10 percent of infants are born to fathers over the age of 40, whereas four decades ago it was only 4 percent.
“We’re seeing these shifts across the United States, across race strata, across education levels, geography — everywhere you look, the same patterns are being seen,” Eisenberg said. “So I do think it’s becoming more relevant for us to understand the health ramifications of advanced paternal age on infant and maternal health.”
Having a better understanding of the father’s biological role will be obviously important for the offspring, but also potentially for the mother.
Eisenberg and his colleagues used data from 40.5 million live births documented through a data-sharing program run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics. The researchers organized the information based on the fathers’ age — younger than 25; 25 to 34; 35 to 44; 45 to 55; and older than 55 — and controlled for a variety of parameters that might skew the association between the father’s age and birth outcomes, such as race, education level, marital status, smoking history, access to care and the mother’s age.
The data suggested that once a dad hits age 35, there’s a slight increase in birth risks overall — with every year that a man ages, he accumulates on average two new mutations in the DNA of his sperm — but birth risks for infants born to fathers of the subsequent age tier showed sharper increases.
Compared with fathers between the ages of 25 and 34 (the average age of paternity in the United States), infants born to men 45 or older were 14 percent more likely to be admitted to the NICU, 14 percent more likely to be born prematurely, 18 percent more likely to have seizures and 14 percent more likely to have a low birth weight. If a father was 50 or older, the likelihood that their infant would need ventilation upon birth increased by 10 percent, and the odds that they would need assistance from the neonatal intensive care unit increased by 28 percent.
“What was really surprising was that there seemed to be an association between advanced paternal age and the chance that the mother would develop diabetes during pregnancy,” said Eisenberg. For men age 45 and older, their partners were 28 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes, compared with fathers between 25 and 34. Eisenberg points out that possible biological mechanisms at play here are still a bit murky, but he suspects that the mother’s placenta has a role.
Beyond correlation
Moving forward, Eisenberg wants to look into other population cohorts to confirm the associations between age and birth risks, as well as begin to decode some of the possible biological mechanisms.
“Scientists have looked at these kinds of trends before, but this is the most comprehensive study to look at the relationship between the father’s age and birth outcomes at a population level,” said Eisenberg. “Having a better understanding of the father’s biological role will be obviously important for the offspring, but also potentially for the mother.”
Other Stanford co-authors of the study are professor of obstetrics and gynecology Valerie Baker, MD; professor of pediatrics Gary Shaw, DrPH; professor of pediatrics David K. Stevenson, MD; and professor of biomedical data, Ying Lu, PhD.
Eisenberg is a member of Stanford Bio-X, the Stanford Child Health Research Institute and the Stanford Cancer Institute.
Stanford’s Department of Urology also supported the work.
By HANAE ARMITAGE
Hanae Armitage is a science writer for the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. Email her at harmitag@stanford.edu. http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2018/10/older-fathers-associated-with-increased-birth-risks.html

There are benefits and cautions for those becoming parents after 35.

Dinah Wisenberg Brin wrote in the CNBC article Older-Parent Families: Advantages and Disadvantages:

Beyond the retirement and college-planning decisions, middle-aged parents may be caring for their own frail, elderly parents at the same time they’re raising preschoolers, a potentially costly prospect that points to another issue: No built-in support network of youthful grandparents who can babysit during parental getaways. CFP Kahler knows this first hand.
“Our childcare bill is as much as our airfare bill,” he says. Trading childcare with other families can defrays the costs, though, he adds.
The age factor similarly can make it difficult for middle-age parents to find willing and able guardians to name in their wills. Lindsay recalls a former client couple in their 40s with young children who had trouble completing their estate planning because they had only older siblings and no one willing to be named as guardians.
“Sometimes it just comes down to making the best decision out of a number of poor alternatives,” Kahler says. “It may mean sending them out of state to someone, you may be looking to nieces and nephews who could potentially raise a child.”
Older-parent families can face other advantages and disadvantages, as well.
“I think my kids will need less therapy than if I’d had kids in my 20s,” Kahler jokes. On the other hand, he notes there are costs associated with the care of an aging body. “I tell my kids, `The horsey can only go up and down the hallway a couple of times before the horsey runs out of gas.’ ” https://www.cnbc.com/id/44378785

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

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Infectious Diseases Society of America study: Fatal measles case highlights importance of herd immunity in protecting the vulnerable

4 Nov

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lay out the case for vaccination:
Why Are Childhood Vaccines So Important?

It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs.
Diseases that used to be common in this country and around the world, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can now be prevented by vaccination. Thanks to a vaccine, one of the most terrible diseases in history – smallpox – no longer exists outside the laboratory. Over the years vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives.
Immunity Protects us From Disease
Immunity is the body’s way of preventing disease. Children are born with an immune system composed of cells, glands, organs, and fluids located throughout the body. The immune system recognizes germs that enter the body as “foreign invaders” (called antigens) and produces proteins called antibodies to fight them.
The first time a child is infected with a specific antigen (say measles virus), the immune system produces antibodies designed to fight it. This takes time . . . usually the immune system can’t work fast enough to prevent the antigen from causing disease, so the child still gets sick. However, the immune system “remembers” that antigen. If it ever enters the body again, even after many years, the immune system can produce antibodies fast enough to keep it from causing disease a second time. This protection is called immunity.
It would be nice if there were a way to give children immunity to a disease without their having to get sick first.
In fact there is:
Vaccines contain the same antigens (or parts of antigens) that cause diseases. For example, measles vaccine contains measles virus. But the antigens in vaccines are either killed, or weakened to the point that they don’t cause disease. However, they are strong enough to make the immune system produce antibodies that lead to immunity. In other words, a vaccine is a safer substitute for a child’s first exposure to a disease. The child gets protection without having to get sick. Through vaccination, children can develop immunity without suffering from the actual diseases that vaccines prevent.
More Facts
• Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, this immunity goes away during the first year of life.
• If an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but because babies are protected by vaccines, we don’t see these diseases nearly as often.
• Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who cannot be immunized (children who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who can’t receive certain vaccines for medical reasons), and the small proportion of people who don’t respond to a particular vaccine.
• Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/howvpd.htm

A key component of the effectiveness of the effectiveness of vaccines is herd protection.

PBS NOVA reported in What is Herd Immunity?

What is “herd immunity?”
Just as a herd of cattle or sheep uses sheer numbers to protect its members from predators, herd immunity protects a community from infectious diseases by virtue of the sheer numbers of people immune to such diseases. The more members of a human “herd” who are immune to a given disease, the better protected the whole populace will be from an outbreak of that disease.
There are two ways an individual can become immune to an infectious disease: by becoming infected with the pathogen that causes it or by being vaccinated against it. Because vaccines induce immunity without causing illness, they are a comparatively safe and effective way to fill a community with disease-resistant people. These vaccinated individuals have protected themselves from disease. But, in turn, they are also protecting members of the community who cannot be vaccinated, preventing the chain of disease from reaching them and limiting potential outbreaks. Every vaccinated person adds to the effectiveness of this community-level protection.
What do thresholds have to do with herd immunity?
The microbes that cause disease all have different infectious features. Some, like measles and influenza, pass from person to person more easily than others. Some tend to have more severe consequences in specific demographic groups. For example, the symptoms of pertussis, or whooping cough, are distressing at any age but can be fatal in infants, the age group with the highest death rate from pertussis. Each of these features—such as transmissibility and severity—affects a given disease’s threshold, or the minimum percentage of immune individuals a community needs to prevent an outbreak.
To set a threshold, epidemiologists—experts in infectious disease transmission—use a value called “basic reproduction number,” often referred to as “R0.” This number represents how many people in an unprotected population one infected person could pass the disease along to. For example, R0 for measles is between 12 and 18, while for polio, it is between five and seve. The higher this number is, the higher the immunity threshold must be to protect the community. Because measles is extremely contagious and can spread through the air, for example, the immunity threshold needed to protect a community is high, at 95%. Diseases like polio, which are a little less contagious, have a lower threshold—80% to 85% in the case of polio….. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/herd-immunity/

Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) reported about the importance of herd protection in cases where a disease can prove fatal with out herd protection.

Science Daily reported in Fatal measles case highlights importance of herd immunity in protecting the vulnerable:

Last year, a 26-year-old man receiving treatment for leukemia went to a Swiss hospital’s emergency room with a fever, a sore throat, and a cough, and was admitted. His condition worsened, and 17 days later, he died from severe complications of measles. The man’s weakened immune system was unable to fight off the disease, even though he was vaccinated against measles as a child.
A new report in Open Forum Infectious Diseases describes the man’s case, highlighting the importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage in the community to help protect people with compromised immune systems from measles and other vaccine-preventable infections. “Measles is not harmless, it’s a serious disease,” said the report’s lead author, Philipp Jent, MD, of Bern University Hospital and the University of Bern in Switzerland. “There is a responsibility to vaccinate yourself to protect others, not only to protect yourself.”
Following the patient’s admission in February of 2017, he developed additional symptoms over the next several days, including a progressive rash, mouth sores, and conjunctivitis, that suggested measles, although he had been fully vaccinated against the disease with the recommended two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the 1990s. A throat swab test confirmed the measles infection. Treatment with ribavirin (an antiviral drug), immunoglobulins (a type of antibody), and vitamin A did not improve his condition. He subsequently developed severe pneumonia and died.
The case illustrates how serious measles can be, particularly for people with compromised immune systems due to cancer treatment or other causes. It also underscores the importance of herd immunity in protecting these vulnerable individuals, the report’s authors noted. When vaccination rates in a community are high enough, vaccine-preventable diseases like measles are less likely to spread, which helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated (such as newborns not old enough to be immunized) or, like the patient in this case, for whom vaccines are not as effective.
When the proportion of people in a community who are vaccinated drops below this threshold, however, as it has for measles immunizations in several European countries, outbreaks are more likely. More than 41,000 children and adults in Europe were infected with measles during the first half of 2018, according to the World Health Organization, exceeding the annual total of European cases reported in any previous year this decade. In the U.S., there had been 142 confirmed cases of measles in 2018 as of early October, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data released by CDC in October also showed a gradual but concerning climb in the numbers of U.S. children who reach their second birthday without having received any recommended vaccines…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181101133918.htm

Citation:

Fatal measles case highlights importance of herd immunity in protecting the vulnerable
Date: November 1, 2018
Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America
Summary:
A new report describes a recent case highlighting the importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage in the community to help protect people with compromised immune systems from measles and other vaccine-preventable infections.

Journal Reference:
Philipp Jent, Mafalda Trippel, Manuel Frey, Alexander Pöllinger, Sabina Berezowska, Rupert Langer, Hansjakob Furrer, Charles Béguelin. Fatal Measles Virus Infection After Rituximab-Containing Chemotherapy in a Previously Vaccinated Patient. Open Forum Infectious Diseases, 2018; 5 (11) DOI: 10.1093/ofid/ofy244

Here is the press release from IDSA:

Fatal Measles Case Highlights Importance of Herd Immunity in Protecting the Vulnerable
Last year, a 26-year-old man receiving treatment for leukemia went to a Swiss hospital’s emergency room with a fever, a sore throat, and a cough, and was admitted. His condition worsened, and 17 days later, he died from severe complications of measles. The man’s weakened immune system was unable to fight off the disease, even though he was vaccinated against measles as a child.
A new report in Open Forum Infectious Diseases describes the man’s case, highlighting the importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage in the community to help protect people with compromised immune systems from measles and other vaccine-preventable infections. “Measles is not harmless, it’s a serious disease,” said the report’s lead author, Philipp Jent, MD, of Bern University Hospital and the University of Bern in Switzerland. “There is a responsibility to vaccinate yourself to protect others, not only to protect yourself.”
Following the patient’s admission in February of 2017, he developed additional symptoms over the next several days, including a progressive rash, mouth sores, and conjunctivitis, that suggested measles, although he had been fully vaccinated against the disease with the recommended two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the 1990s. A throat swab test confirmed the measles infection. Treatment with ribavirin (an antiviral drug), immunoglobulins (a type of antibody), and vitamin A did not improve his condition. He subsequently developed severe pneumonia and died.
The case illustrates how serious measles can be, particularly for people with compromised immune systems due to cancer treatment or other causes. It also underscores the importance of herd immunity in protecting these vulnerable individuals, the report’s authors noted. When vaccination rates in a community are high enough, vaccine-preventable diseases like measles are less likely to spread, which helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated (such as newborns not old enough to be immunized) or, like the patient in this case, for whom vaccines are not as effective.
When the proportion of people in a community who are vaccinated drops below this threshold, however, as it has for measles immunizations in several European countries, outbreaks are more likely. More than 41,000 children and adults in Europe were infected with measles during the first half of 2018, according to the World Health Organization, exceeding the annual total of European cases reported in any previous year this decade. In the U.S., there had been 142 confirmed cases of measles in 2018 as of early October, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data released by CDC in October also showed a gradual but concerning climb in the numbers of U.S. children who reach their second birthday without having received any recommended vaccines.
“Ongoing efforts to raise confidence in vaccines and increase population immunity should be intensified,” the authors wrote in the case report’s conclusion. Physicians caring for people with compromised immune systems, the authors noted, should also ensure that those in close contact with these patients, such as family members and friends, are fully vaccinated.
Fast Facts
• People with weakened immune systems are at risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, even if they have been vaccinated.
• In this case, a 26-year-old Swiss man undergoing treatment for leukemia contracted measles and died from severe complications of the infection, despite being fully vaccinated against measles as a child.
• Maintaining high enough levels of vaccination coverage in the broader community, also known as herd immunity, can limit the spread of measles and other diseases and help protect those who are especially vulnerable.
Editor’s Note: The report authors’ affiliations, acknowledgments, and disclosures of financial support and potential conflicts of interests, if any, are available in the full report.
Fatal Measles Virus Infection After Rituximab-Containing Chemotherapy in a Previously Vaccinated Patient
https://academic.oup.com/ofid/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ofid/ofy244

There is an ongoing public debate about possible risks of vaccination for some individuals vs. the greater good of vaccination for the commons.

Kevin M. Malone and Alan R. Hinman wrote in Chapter 13 of Vaccination Mandates: The Public Health Imperative and Individual Rights:

BACKGROUND
Concept for Community Disease Prevention
Garrett Hardin’s classic essay The Tragedy of the Commons3 describes the challenges presented when societal interest conflicts with the individual’s interest. Hardin notes the incentives present when the cattle of a community are commingled in a common pasture. At capacity, each owner still has an incentive to add additional cattle to the common because even though the yield from each animal decreases with the addition of more cattle, this decrease is offset for the individual owner by the additional animal. With this incentive, individual owners continue to add cattle to the commons to reap their individual benefit, leading to the inevitable failure of the common from overgrazing. The community interest in maximizing food production, therefore, can be achieved only by placing controls on the interests of the individual owners in favor of those of the community. Analogously, a community free of an infectious disease because of a high vaccination rate can be viewed as a common. As in Hardin’s common, the very existence of this common leads to tension between the best interests of the individual and those of the community. Increased immunization rates result in significantly decreased risk for disease. Although no remaining unimmunized individual can be said to be free of risk from the infectious disease, the herd effect generated from high immunization rates significantly reduces the risk for disease for those individuals. Additional benefit is conferred on the unimmunized person because avoidance of the vaccine avoids the risk for any adverse reactions associated with the vaccine. As disease rates drop, the risks associated with the vaccine come even more to the fore, providing further incentive to avoid immunization. Thus, when an individual in this common chooses to go unimmunized, it only minimally increases the risk of illness for that individual, while conferring on that person the benefit of avoiding the risk of vaccine induced side effects. At the same time, however, this action weakens the herd effect protection for the entire community. As more and more individuals choose to do what is in their “best” individual interest, the common eventually fails as herd immunity disappears and disease outbreaks occur. To avoid this “tragedy of the commons,” legal requirements have been imposed by communities (in recent times, by states) to mandate particular vaccinations.
Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness
Vaccines are safe and effective. However, they are neither perfectly safe nor perfectly effective. Consequently, some persons who receive vaccines will be injured as a result, and some persons who receive vaccines will not be protected. Most adverse events associated with vaccines are minor and involve local soreness or redness at the injection site or perhaps fever for a day or so. Rarely, however, vaccine can cause more serious adverse events. Whether an adverse event that occurs after vaccination was caused by the vaccine or was merely temporally related and caused by some totally independent (and often unknown or unidentified) factor is often difficult to ascertain. This is particularly problematic during infancy, when a number of conditions may occur spontaneously…. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/guides-pubs/downloads/vacc_mandates_chptr13.pdf

The issue for those balancing individual decision-making and the needs of public health are how much coercion is necessary to compel individual vaccination with the goal of protecting public health.

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Ohio State University study: Why relationships — not money — are the key to improving schools

28 Oct

In New research: School principal effectiveness, moi said: The number one reason why teachers leave the profession has to do with working conditions. A key influencer of the environment of a school and the working conditions is the school principal.
Gregory Branch, Eric Hanushek, and Steven Rivkin are reporting in the National Centerfor Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Educational Research report, Estimating Principal Effectiveness:

VI. Conclusion
An important facet of many school policy discussions is the role of strong leadership, particularly of principals. Leadership is viewed as especially important in revitalizing failing schools. This discussion is, however, largely uninformed by systematic analysis of principals and their impact on student outcomes….
The initial results suggest that principal movements parallel teacher movements. Specifically, principals are affected by the racial and achievement distribution of students in schools, and this enters into mobility patterns. Yet the common view that the best leave the most needy schools is not supported.
An important element of the role of principals is how they interact with teachers. Our on-going analysis links principals to measures of teacher effectiveness to understand how principals affect teacher outcomes. http://www.caldercenter.org/upload/CALDER-Working-Paper-32_FINAL.pdf
See, Principals Matter: School Leaders Can Drive Student Learning http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Karin%20Chenoweth/principals-matter-school-_b_1252598.html?ref=email_share

In lay person speak; what they are saying is that a strong principal is a strong leader for his or her particular school. A strong principal is particularly important in schools which face challenges. Now, we get into the manner in which strong principals interact with their staff – is it an art or is it a science? What makes a good principal can be discussed and probably depends upon the perspective of those giving an opinion, but Gary Hopkins of Education World summarizes the thoughts of some educators:

Top Ten Traits of School Leaders
Last month, 43 of the Education World Principal Files principals participated in a survey. The result of that survey is this list of the top ten traits of school leaders, presented in order of importance.
1. Has a stated vision for the school and a plan to achieve that vision.
2. Clearly states goals and expectations for students, staff, and parents.
3. Is visible — gets out of the office; is seen all over the school.
4. Is trustworthy and straight with students and staff.
5. Helps develop leadership skills in others.
6. Develops strong teachers; cultivates good teaching practice.
7. Shows that he or she is not in charge alone; involves others.
8. Has a sense of humor.
9. Is a role model for students and staff.
10. Offers meaningful kindnesses and kudos to staff and students.
http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin190.shtml

These traits can be summarized that a strong principal is a leader with a vision for his or her school and who has the drive and the people skills to take his or her teachers and students to that vision. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/new-research-school-principal-effectiveness/

Science Daily reported in Why relationships — not money — are the key to improving schools:

Strong relationships between teachers, parents and students at schools has more impact on improving student learning than does financial support, new research shows.

Social capital is the name scientists give to the network of relationships between school officials, teachers, parents and the community that builds trust and norms promoting academic achievement.
The study found that social capital had a three- to five-times larger effect than financial capital on reading and math scores in Michigan schools.

“When we talk about why some schools perform better than others, differences in the amount of money they have to spend is often assumed to be an explanation,” said Roger Goddard, co-author of the study and Novice G. Fawcett Chair and professor of educational administration at The Ohio State University.
“We found that money is certainly important. But this study also shows that social capital deserves a larger role in our thinking about cost-effective ways to support students, especially the most vulnerable.”
Goddard conducted the research with Serena Salloum of Ball State University and Dan Berebitsky of Southern Methodist University. The study appears online in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk and will be published in a future print edition.
The study involved 5,003 students and their teachers in 78 randomly selected public elementary schools in Michigan. The sample is representative of the demographics of all elementary schools in the state.
Teachers completed a questionnaire that measured levels of social capital in their schools. They rated how much they agreed with statements like “Parent involvement supports learning here,” “Teachers in this school trust their students” and “Community involvement facilitates learning here.”
State data on instructional expenditures per pupil was used to measure financial capital at each school.
Finally, the researchers used student performance on state-mandated fourth-grade reading and mathematics tests to measure student learning.
Results showed that on average schools that spent more money did have better test scores than those that spent less. But the effect of social capital was three times larger than financial capital on math scores and five times larger on reading scores….. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181025103300.htm

Citation:

Why relationships — not money — are the key to improving schools
Study finds social capital has 3-5 times the impact of funding
Date: October 25, 2018
Source: Ohio State University
Summary:
Strong relationships between teachers, parents and students at schools has more impact on improving student learning than does financial support, new research shows. The study found that social capital had a three- to five-times larger effect than financial capital on reading and math scores in Michigan schools.
Journal Reference:
Serena J. Salloum, Roger D. Goddard, Dan Berebitsky. Resources, Learning, and Policy: The Relative Effects of Social and Financial Capital on Student Learning in Schools. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR), 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/10824669.2018.1496023

Here is the press release from Ohio State:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 25-OCT-2018
Why relationships — not money — are the key to improving schools
Study finds social capital has 3-5 times the impact of funding
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Strong relationships between teachers, parents and students at schools has more impact on improving student learning than does financial support, new research shows.
Social capital is the name scientists give to the network of relationships between school officials, teachers, parents and the community that builds trust and norms promoting academic achievement.
The study found that social capital had a three- to five-times larger effect than financial capital on reading and math scores in Michigan schools.
“When we talk about why some schools perform better than others, differences in the amount of money they have to spend is often assumed to be an explanation,” said Roger Goddard, co-author of the study and Novice G. Fawcett Chair and professor of educational administration at The Ohio State University.
“We found that money is certainly important. But this study also shows that social capital deserves a larger role in our thinking about cost-effective ways to support students, especially the most vulnerable.”
Goddard conducted the research with Serena Salloum of Ball State University and Dan Berebitsky of Southern Methodist University. The study appears online in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk and will be published in a future print edition.
The study involved 5,003 students and their teachers in 78 randomly selected public elementary schools in Michigan. The sample is representative of the demographics of all elementary schools in the state.
Teachers completed a questionnaire that measured levels of social capital in their schools. They rated how much they agreed with statements like “Parent involvement supports learning here,” “Teachers in this school trust their students” and “Community involvement facilitates learning here.”
State data on instructional expenditures per pupil was used to measure financial capital at each school.
Finally, the researchers used student performance on state-mandated fourth-grade reading and mathematics tests to measure student learning.
Results showed that on average schools that spent more money did have better test scores than those that spent less. But the effect of social capital was three times larger than financial capital on math scores and five times larger on reading scores.
“Social capital was not only more important to learning than instructional expenditures, but also more important than the schools’ poverty, ethnic makeup or prior achievement,” Goddard said.
While social capital tended to go down in schools as poverty levels increased, it wasn’t a major decrease.
“We could see from our data that more than half of the social capital that schools have access to has nothing to do with the level of poverty in the communities they serve,” he said.
“Our results really speak to the importance and the practicality of building social capital in high-poverty neighborhoods where they need it the most.”
The study also found that the money spent on student learning was not associated with levels of social capital in schools. That means schools can’t “buy” social capital just by spending more money. Social relationships require a different kind of investment, Goddard said.
The study can’t answer how to cultivate social capital in schools. But Goddard has some ideas.
One is for schools to do more to help teachers work together.
“Research shows that the more teachers collaborate, the more they work together on instructional improvement, the higher the test scores of their students. That’s because collaborative work builds social capital that provides students with access to valuable support,” he said.
Building connections to the community is important, too. School-based mentoring programs that connect children to adults in the community is one idea.
“Sustained interactions over time focused on children’s learning and effective teaching practice are the best way for people to build trust and build networks that are at the heart of social capital,” Goddard said.
“We need intentional effort by schools to build social capital. We can’t leave it to chance.”
###
Contact: Roger Goddard, 614-292-3239; Goddard.9@osu.edu
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, 614-292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Schools must be relentless about the basics for their population of kids.

What does it mean to Be Relentless about the Basics?
1. Students acquire strong subject matter skills in reading, writing, and math.
2. Students are assessed often to gauge where they are in acquiring basic skills.
3. If there are deficiencies in acquiring skills, schools intervene as soon as a deficiency assessment is made.
4. Schools intervene early in life challenges faced by students which prevent them from attending school and performing in school.
5. Appropriate corrective assistance is provided by the school to overcome both academic and life challenges.

Resources:

The Performance Indicators for Effective Principal Leadership in Improving Student Achievement
http://mdk12.org/process/leading/p_indicators.html

Effective Schools: Managing the Recruitment, Development, and Retention of High-quality Teachers
http://www.caldercenter.org/upload/Effective-Schools_CALDER-Working-Paper-37-3.pdf

What makes a great principal?
http://www.greatschools.org/improvement/quality-teaching/189-what-makes-a-great-principal-an-audio-slide-show.gs

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University of Illinois at Chicago study: How to avoid raising a materialistic child

21 Oct

George Monbiot wrote in the article, Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out:

There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness. But research conducted over the past few years seems to show causation. For example, a series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in July showed that as people become more materialistic, their wellbeing (good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it rises….
A third paper, published (paradoxically) in the Journal of Consumer Research, studied 2,500 people for six years. It found a two-way relationship between materialism and loneliness: materialism fosters social isolation; isolation fosters materialism. People who are cut off from others attach themselves to possessions. This attachment in turn crowds out social relationships.
The two varieties of materialism that have this effect – using possessions as a yardstick of success and seeking happiness through acquisition – are the varieties that seem to be on display on Rich Kids of Instagram. It was only after reading this paper that I understood why those photos distressed me: they look like a kind of social self-mutilation.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons an economic model based on perpetual growth continues on its own terms to succeed, though it may leave a trail of unpayable debts, mental illness and smashed relationships. Social atomisation may be the best sales strategy ever devised, and continuous marketing looks like an unbeatable programme for atomisation.
Materialism forces us into comparison with the possessions of others, a race both cruelly illustrated and crudely propelled by that toxic website. There is no end to it. If you have four Rolexes while another has five, you are a Rolex short of contentment. The material pursuit of self-esteem reduces your self-esteem.
I should emphasise that this is not about differences between rich and poor: the poor can be as susceptible to materialism as the rich. It is a general social affliction, visited upon us by government policy, corporate strategy, the collapse of communities and civic life, and our acquiescence in a system that is eating us from the inside out.
This is the dreadful mistake we are making: allowing ourselves to believe that having more money and more stuff enhances our wellbeing, a belief possessed not only by those poor deluded people in the pictures, but by almost every member of almost every government. Worldly ambition, material aspiration, perpetual growth: these are a formula for mass unhappiness…. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/09/materialism-system-eats-us-from-inside-out

University of Illinois Chicago researchers studied how to avoid raising a materialistic child.

Science Daily reported in How to avoid raising a materialistic child:

If you’re a parent, you may be concerned that materialism among children has been on the rise. According to research, materialism has been linked to a variety of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as well as selfish attitudes and behaviors.
But there’s some good news. A new study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology suggests that some parenting tactics can curb kids’ materialistic tendencies.
“Our findings show that it is possible to reduce materialism among young consumers, as well as one of its most common negative consequences (nongenerosity) using a simple strategy — fostering gratitude for the things and people in their lives,” writes researcher Lan Nguyen Chaplin, associate professor of marketing at the University of Illinois at Chicago and coauthor of the study.
After studying a nationwide sample of more than 900 adolescents ages 11 to 17, Chaplin’s team found a link between fostering gratitude and its effects on materialism, suggesting that having and expressing gratitude may possibly decrease materialism and increase generosity among adolescents.
The team surveyed 870 adolescents and asked them to complete an online eight-item measure of materialism assessing the value placed on money and material goods, and a four-item measure of gratitude assessing how thankful they are for people and possessions in their lives.
The researchers then conducted an experiment among 61 adolescents and asked them to complete the same four-item gratitude measure from the first study and an eight-item materialism measure. The adolescents were randomly assigned to keep a daily journal for two weeks. One group was asked to record who and what they were thankful for each day by keeping a gratitude journal, and the control group was asked to record their daily activities.
After two weeks, the journals were collected and the participants completed the same gratitude and materialism measures as before. The kids were then given 10 $1 bills for participating and told they could keep all the money or donate some or all of it to charity.
Results showed that participants who were encouraged to keep a gratitude journal showed a significant decrease in materialism and increase in gratitude. The control group, which kept the daily activity journal, retained their pre-journal levels of gratitude and materialism.
In addition, the group that kept a gratitude journal was more generous than the control group. Adolescents, who were in the experimental group, wrote about who and what they were thankful for and donated more than two-thirds of their earnings. Those who were in the control group and simply wrote about their daily activities donated less than half of their earnings.
“The results of this survey study indicate that higher levels of gratitude are associated with lower levels of materialism in adolescents across a wide range of demographic groups,” Chaplin noted…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181019100606.htm

Citation:

How to avoid raising a materialistic child
Date: October 19, 2018
Source: University of Illinois at Chicago
Summary:
If you’re a parent, you may be concerned that materialism among children has been on the rise. But there’s some good news. A new study suggests that some parenting tactics can curb kids’ materialistic tendencies.
Journal Reference:
Lan Nguyen Chaplin, Deborah Roedder John, Aric Rindfleisch, Jeffrey J. Froh. The impact of gratitude on adolescent materialism and generosity. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2018.1497688

Here is the press release from University of Illinois Chicago:

PUBLIC RELEASE: 19-OCT-2018

How to avoid raising a materialistic child
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO
If you’re a parent, you may be concerned that materialism among children has been on the rise. According to research, materialism has been linked to a variety of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as well as selfish attitudes and behaviors.
But there’s some good news. A new study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology suggests that some parenting tactics can curb kids’ materialistic tendencies.
“Our findings show that it is possible to reduce materialism among young consumers, as well as one of its most common negative consequences (nongenerosity) using a simple strategy — fostering gratitude for the things and people in their lives,” writes researcher Lan Nguyen Chaplin, associate professor of marketing at the University of Illinois at Chicago and coauthor of the study.
After studying a nationwide sample of more than 900 adolescents ages 11 to 17, Chaplin’s team found a link between fostering gratitude and its effects on materialism, suggesting that having and expressing gratitude may possibly decrease materialism and increase generosity among adolescents.
The team surveyed 870 adolescents and asked them to complete an online eight-item measure of materialism assessing the value placed on money and material goods, and a four-item measure of gratitude assessing how thankful they are for people and possessions in their lives.
The researchers then conducted an experiment among 61 adolescents and asked them to complete the same four-item gratitude measure from the first study and an eight-item materialism measure. The adolescents were randomly assigned to keep a daily journal for two weeks. One group was asked to record who and what they were thankful for each day by keeping a gratitude journal, and the control group was asked to record their daily activities.
After two weeks, the journals were collected and the participants completed the same gratitude and materialism measures as before. The kids were then given 10 $1 bills for participating and told they could keep all the money or donate some or all of it to charity.
Results showed that participants who were encouraged to keep a gratitude journal showed a significant decrease in materialism and increase in gratitude. The control group, which kept the daily activity journal, retained their pre-journal levels of gratitude and materialism.
In addition, the group that kept a gratitude journal was more generous than the control group. Adolescents, who were in the experimental group, wrote about who and what they were thankful for and donated more than two-thirds of their earnings. Those who were in the control group and simply wrote about their daily activities donated less than half of their earnings.
“The results of this survey study indicate that higher levels of gratitude are associated with lower levels of materialism in adolescents across a wide range of demographic groups,” Chaplin noted.
The authors also suggest that materialism can be curbed and feelings of gratitude can be enhanced by a daily gratitude reflection around the dinner table, having children and adolescents make posters of what they are grateful for, or keeping a “gratitude jar” where children and teens write down something they are grateful for each week, while countering materialism.
###
Coauthors of the study include Deborah Roedder John, University of Minnesota; Aric Rindfleisch, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Jeffrey Froh, Hofstra University.
The research was conducted at Villanova University. Lan Nguyen Chaplin is now at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

A key component of materialism is the level of gratitude an individual possesses.

Lifeworks wrote in Depression more prevalent in the Western world:

According to a new World Health Organization (WHO) study, published on July 25 in the journal of BMC medicine, not only are depression rates significantly higher in affluent nations but cases of major depression are on the rise throughout the world. The study concludes that depression is a severe global problem that will change from being the world’s fourth leading cause of disability worldwide, to being the second leading cause of disability by 2020. But how are we to explain these concerning findings.
The link between affluence and stress
The WHO study found that 15% of people in high income countries were likely to face an episode of depression in their lifetime, compared to 11% of people in low income countries. The highest instances of people that faced clinical depression once in their lifetime was found in France, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States. These figures are in stark contrast to countries such as China and Mexico, which were found to have the lowest incidences of depression.
The researchers of the study speculate that stress might be a significant factor in the differences in the prevalence rates. Stress is known to be one of the main triggers of depression, and in nations such as the UK a still growing number of men and women succumb to the pressures that seem embedded in our value system and societal structure. The study found an important gender disparity with regards to depression, with women having a twofold increased risk of having major depressive episodes, which might in part explain why affluent nations, in which women are working and making home, stress and depression are more prevalent…. https://www.lifeworkscommunity.com/mental-health-knowledge-centre/depression/depression-in-the-western-world.html

Perhaps, what is missing is gratitude.

Robert Emmons wrote Why Gratitude Is Good:

We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
Physical
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
Psychological
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
Social
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.
The social benefits are especially significant here because, after all, gratitude is a social emotion. I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.
Indeed, this cuts to very heart of my definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life…. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good

Many of the happiest individuals cultivate an attitude of gratitude. See, Wynne Parry’s 7 Tips to Cultivate Gratitude https://www.livescience.com/25900-7-tips-gratitude-happiness.html

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University of Maryland Baltimore County study: New method to address deep-seated biases in science

18 Oct

The New York Times reported in Hoaxers Slip Breastaurants and Dog-Park Sex Into Journals:

One paper, published in a journal called Sex Roles, said that the author had conducted a two-year study involving “thematic analysis of table dialogue” to uncover the mystery of why heterosexual men like to eat at Hooters.
Another, from a journal of feminist geography, parsed “human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity” at dog parks in Portland, Ore., while a third paper, published in a journal of feminist social work and titled “Our Struggle Is My Struggle,” simply scattered some up-to-date jargon into passages lifted from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
Such offerings may or may not have raised eyebrows among the journals’ limited readerships. But this week, they unleashed a cascade of mockery — along with a torrent of debate about ethics of hoaxes, the state of peer review and the excesses of academia — when they were revealed to be part of an elaborate prank aimed squarely at what the authors labeled “grievance studies.”
“Something has gone wrong in the university — especially in certain fields within the humanities,” the three authors of the fake papers wrote in an article in the online journal Areo explaining what they had done. “Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields.”
Their project quickly drew comparisons to a famous 1996 hoax in which the physicist Alan Sokal got a paper mixing postmodern philosophy with the theory of quantum gravity into a prestigious cultural studies journal.
But while that hoax involved a single article, the new one involved 20 papers, produced every two weeks or so, submitted to various journals over nearly a year.
The authors — Helen Pluckrose, James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian — said that four papers had been published; three had been accepted but not yet published; seven were under review and six had been rejected…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/04/arts/academic-journals-hoax.html

Scientific method is important because it directs inquiry into a rational discussion and outcome.

William Harris wrote in How the Scientific Method Works:

Importance of the Scientific Method
The scientific method attempts to minimize the influence of bias or prejudice in the experimenter. Even the best-intentioned scientists can’t escape bias. It results from personal beliefs, as well as cultural beliefs, which means any human filters information based on his or her own experience. Unfortunately, this filtering process can cause a scientist to prefer one outcome over another. For someone trying to solve a problem around the house, succumbing to these kinds of biases is not such a big deal. But in the scientific community, where results have to be reviewed and duplicated, bias must be avoided at all costs.
¬T¬hat’s the job of the scientific method. It provides an objective, standardized approach to conducting experiments and, in doing so, improves their results. By using a standardized approach in their investigations, scientists can feel confident that they will stick to the facts and limit the influence of personal, preconceived notions. Even with such a rigorous methodology in place, some scientists still make mistakes. For example, they can mistake a hypothesis for an explanation of a phenomenon without performing experiments. Or they can fail to accurately account for errors, such as measurement errors. Or they can ignore data that does not support the hypothesis…. https://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/scientific-experiments/scientific-method9.htm

A University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) examined biases in scientific research.

Science Daily reported in New method to address deep-seated biases in science:

New UMBC research is helping dismantle gender and publication biases in science. A team of researchers working across disciplines has developed a new statistical technique to understand similarity, rather than difference, in the natural world. With this new technique, they’ve determined that among Eastern Bluebirds the structure of songs female birds sing is statistically indistinguishable from songs males sing….
Challenging a paradigm
Working together, the team modified a statistical method used in generic drug testing to meet their needs for ecology and animal behavior studies. The existing test helps determine whether generic and brand name drugs are “statistically equivalent,” meaning they are similar enough to be prescribed safely for the same purpose. The new modification will allow scientists in other fields to test for equivalence. Before, researchers could only report they did not find a significant difference — a very different statement than saying two things are conclusively equivalent.
“We’re really hoping this new method is going to address some issues with what kinds of data get published,” Rose says. “The most important thing about being a good scientist is to be unbiased. And the whole tradition of testing for difference really leads to incredible biases in scientists,” Omland says. He adds, “There’s a whole realm of things in nature that we find interesting and important because of their similarity.”
For example, in addition to similarities in songs between the sexes in birds, researchers could use the new test to ask if two species use the same type of habitat, respond the same way to predators, or consume the same food sources. Answers to those questions could fill long-standing knowledge gaps, or even inform conservation efforts.
“This test is really broadly applicable,” says Rose, “and we’re hoping to introduce it more to the ecology and evolution field.”
A new approach
One advantage of the new method is it accounts for unequal sample sizes. In a medical study, researchers can carefully control the size of treatment and control groups. In other fields, from ecology, to engineering, to agriculture, that’s often not possible. The new test also allows researchers to determine the equivalence of several traits simultaneously, Mathew explains. For example, in this study, the authors found that the male and female birds’ songs were statistically equivalent across five different characteristics, such as duration of each song and the range of pitches the birds produced.
Rather than testing whether two things are exactly equal, the team was looking for a way to determine if two things were “close enough,” given a defined allowable margin of difference. Because of that added layer, “There are additional challenges here,” Mathew says…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181016150725.htm

Citation:

New method to address deep-seated biases in science
A new statistical method that explicitly tests for equivalence, rather than difference, can help combat the bias against publishing
Date: October 16, 2018
Source: University of Maryland Baltimore County
Summary:
A new statistical method that tests for equivalence, rather than difference, has a role to play in dismantling gender and publication biases in science. The authors believe the technique has broad applicability across disciplines and can help remove publication bias against ”negative results,” opening the door to a broader investigation of natural phenomena.

Journal Reference:
Evangeline M. Rose, Thomas Mathew, Derek A. Coss, Bernard Lohr, Kevin E. Omland. A new statistical method to test equivalence: an application in male and female eastern bluebird song. Animal Behaviour, 2018; 145: 77 DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.09.004

Here is the press release from UMBC:

New methods to fight biases in science, starting with birds
October 18, 2018 1:28 PM
New UMBC research is helping dismantle gender and publication biases in science. A team of researchers working across disciplines has developed a new statistical technique to understand similarity, rather than difference, in the natural world. With this new technique, they’ve determined that among Eastern Bluebirds the structure of songs female birds sing is statistically indistinguishable from songs males sing.
Awareness of female birdsong is growing worldwide, thanks in part to a breakthrough paper by Karan Odom, Ph.D. ’16, biological sciences, but it’s still understood as a trait found primarily in tropical birds. Evangeline Rose, a current Ph.D. student in the same lab and first author on a new paper in Animal Behavior, wanted to look at song in a temperate species.
During Rose’s fieldwork, “I was finding that the females were singing, to me, what sounded just like male songs,” she says. “So we started thinking about equality, and equivalence, and how to test for it.” On the advice of her advisor, Kevin Omland, professor of biological sciences, she reached out to Thomas Mathew, professor of statistics, who has expertise in statistical equivalence.
Challenging a paradigm
Working together, the team modified a statistical method used in generic drug testing to meet their needs for ecology and animal behavior studies. The existing test helps determine whether generic and brand name drugs are “statistically equivalent,” meaning they are similar enough to be prescribed safely for the same purpose. The new modification will allow scientists in other fields to test for equivalence. Before, researchers could only report they did not find a significant difference—a very different statement than saying two things are conclusively equivalent.
“We’re really hoping this new method is going to address some issues with what kinds of data get published,” Rose says. “The most important thing about being a good scientist is to be unbiased. And the whole tradition of testing for difference really leads to incredible biases in scientists,” Omland says. He adds, “There’s a whole realm of things in nature that we find interesting and important because of their similarity.”
For example, in addition to similarities in songs between the sexes in birds, researchers could use the new test to ask if two species use the same type of habitat, respond the same way to predators, or consume the same food sources. Answers to those questions could fill long-standing knowledge gaps, or even inform conservation efforts.
“This test is really broadly applicable,” says Rose, “and we’re hoping to introduce it more to the ecology and evolution field.”
A new approach
One advantage of the new method is it accounts for unequal sample sizes. In a medical study, researchers can carefully control the size of treatment and control groups. In other fields, from ecology, to engineering, to agriculture, that’s often not possible. The new test also allows researchers to determine the equivalence of several traits simultaneously, Mathew explains. For example, in this study, the authors found that the male and female birds’ songs were statistically equivalent across five different characteristics, such as duration of each song and the range of pitches the birds produced.
Rather than testing whether two things are exactly equal, the team was looking for a way to determine if two things were “close enough,” given a defined allowable margin of difference. Because of that added layer, “There are additional challenges here,” Mathew says.
“Even though this methodology is out there, it hasn’t been applied—even in statistics—with this kind of data. That’s why I was very excited when they brought this project to me,” Mathew says. Rose adds, “It ended up being a really great partnership to look at these questions that hadn’t been asked before for female song, and we also ended up modifying this test in a really cool, new way.”
Changing science
As research on similarities grows, there is also a growing drive to remove the bias against publishing studies that do not find a significant difference, often termed a “negative result.” This paper “is part of an amazing drumbeat that’s building up in the scientific community,” Omland says. “There’s a broader problem with the scientific method that’s being increasingly acknowledged, and the test we’ve developed can at least play a small role, and I hope a big role, in addressing it.”
Rose, who plans to next investigate the function of female bluebird songs, says she will carry these new techniques with her as she moves through her research career. “I think in the future, I’ll be thinking about how equivalence can change the questions we’re asking, and I’ll always keep in mind that we have extra tools in the toolkit.”
Image: An Eastern Bluebird, Rose’s study organism, sits on a fence. Photo by Dolan Trout, used under CC 2.0.

Honesty in scientific research protocol is essential.

David B. Resnik, J.D., Ph.D. wrote in What is Ethics in Research & Why is it Important?

The following is a rough and general summary of some ethical principals that various codes address*:
Honesty
Strive for honesty in all scientific communications. Honestly report data, results, methods and procedures, and publication status. Do not fabricate, falsify, or misrepresent data. Do not deceive colleagues, research sponsors, or the public.
Objectivity
Strive to avoid bias in experimental design, data analysis, data interpretation, peer review, personnel decisions, grant writing, expert testimony, and other aspects of research where objectivity is expected or required. Avoid or minimize bias or self-deception. Disclose personal or financial interests that may affect research.
Integrity
Keep your promises and agreements; act with sincerity; strive for consistency of thought and action.
Carefulness
Avoid careless errors and negligence; carefully and critically examine your own work and the work of your peers. Keep good records of research activities, such as data collection, research design, and correspondence with agencies or journals.
Openness
Share data, results, ideas, tools, resources. Be open to criticism and new ideas.
Respect for Intellectual Property
Honor patents, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property. Do not use unpublished data, methods, or results without permission. Give proper acknowledgement or credit for all contributions to research. Never plagiarize.
Confidentiality
Protect confidential communications, such as papers or grants submitted for publication, personnel records, trade or military secrets, and patient records.
Responsible Publication
Publish in order to advance research and scholarship, not to advance just your own career. Avoid wasteful and duplicative publication.
Responsible Mentoring
Help to educate, mentor, and advise students. Promote their welfare and allow them to make their own decisions.
Respect for colleagues
Respect your colleagues and treat them fairly.
Social Responsibility
Strive to promote social good and prevent or mitigate social harms through research, public education, and advocacy.
Non-Discrimination
Avoid discrimination against colleagues or students on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or other factors not related to scientific competence and integrity.
Competence
Maintain and improve your own professional competence and expertise through lifelong education and learning; take steps to promote competence in science as a whole.
Legality
Know and obey relevant laws and institutional and governmental policies.
Animal Care
Show proper respect and care for animals when using them in research. Do not conduct unnecessary or poorly designed animal experiments.
Human Subjects Protection
When conducting research on human subjects, minimize harms and risks and maximize benefits; respect human dignity, privacy, and autonomy; take special precautions with vulnerable populations; and strive to distribute the benefits and burdens of research fairly.
* Adapted from Shamoo A and Resnik D. 2015. Responsible Conduct of Research, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press). https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/bioethics/whatis/index.cfm

Research often forms the basis of policy decisions and laws. It is vital that research used as the basis of those decisions be conducted as far as possible in a manner free of bias and in accord with ethical research guidelines.

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