Social Science
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Recent stories

Discovery of 4.4 million-year-old "Ardi" named Breakthrough of the Year
The journal Science has named the discovery of "Ardi," the oldest hominid skeleton ever found, its "Breakthrough of the Year 2009." An international team co-led by UC Berkeley's Tim White took 17 years to assemble and analyze the skeleton and thousands of other fossils found with it. The analysis, published in the Oct. 2 Science, revolutionizes our understanding of the earliest human ancestors appearing not long after the human lineage diverged from that of chimps.
(17 December)

Social scientists build case for 'survival of the kindest'
Researchers at UC Berkeley, are challenging long-held beliefs that human beings are wired to be selfish. In a wide range of studies, social scientists are amassing a growing body of evidence to show we are evolving to become more compassionate and collaborative in our quest to survive and thrive.
(08 December)

Some of us may be born more empathetic, new study suggests
Could it be that the generous Mother Teresa and the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol” were influenced by their genes? Researchers at the UC Berkeley have found compelling evidence that people who are more empathetic possess a particular variation of the oxytocin receptor gene.
(16 November)

Study to explore if more sleep will help teens shake off depression
After a late night of texting, instant-messaging or updating Facebook, it’s hardly surprising that many teenagers show up groggy for school. And, studies show, sleep deprivation can lead to poor academic performance, truancy and greater dropout rates, especially for those prone to depression. To address this troubling trend, UC Berkeley's Sleep and Psychological Disorders Laboratory – in conjunction with Kaiser Permanente, Oregon – has begun recruiting middle and high school students for a study to see if depression can be alleviated if they get enough sleep.
(04 November)

Studies find Latino toddlers' gap in cognitive growth
Two new studies led by UC Berkeley researchers find that immigrant Latina mothers, who typically live in poor neighborhoods, give birth to healthy babies, but their toddlers start to lag behind middle-class white children in basic language and cognitive skills by the age of 2 or 3.
(20 October)

Bosses who feel inadequate can turn into bullies
Bosses who are in over their heads are more likely to bully subordinates. That’s because feelings of inadequacy trigger them to lash out at those around them, according to new research from the UC Berkeley, and the University of Southern California. In a new twist on the adage “power corrupts,” researchers at UC Berkeley and USC have found a direct link among supervisors and upper management between self-perceived incompetence and aggression. The findings, gleaned from four separate studies, are published in the November issue of the journal Psychological Science.
(13 October)

Bancroft's Darwin exhibit taps campus's museum, library collections
An exhibit revealing what inspired and challenged the world's best known biologist, Charles Darwin, is now open at the University of California, Berkeley's Bancroft Library in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. The Bancroft joins a worldwide commemoration not only of Darwin's bicentenary, but of the 150th anniversary of the publication of his landmark book, "The Origin of Species."
(17 September)

Kenneth Stampp, noted historian of the Civil War and slavery, dies
Kenneth M. Stampp, a University of California, Berkeley, professor emeritus of history and a formidable scholar best known for paving the way to a sharply revised assessment of American slavery, the coming of the American Civil War and Southern Reconstruction, died in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, July 10. He was 96.
(15 July)

Tougher controls sought for DNA ancestry testing
As the popularity of take-home DNA kits to trace ancestry or calculate the risk for serious medical conditions grows, there is an increasingly critical need for federal oversight of "direct-to-consumer" genetic testing, as well as of the use of DNA samples for research, according to researchers from UC Berkeley,and several other academic institutions.
(02 July)

Linking fast-food proximity to obesity
A high school within a tenth of a mile of a fast-food restaurant is a high school with a higher-than-average number of obese students, Berkeley researchers have found.
(12 March)

Law schools at UC Berkeley and UCLA launch new environment blog
The law schools at UC Berkeley and UCLA today announced the launch of a new blog, Legal Planet, which provides insight and analysis on climate change, energy, and environmental law and policy. This collaborative blog draws upon the individual research strengths and vast expertise of the law schools' think tanks and legal scholars.
(11 March)

Hinshaw on environment, genes, and risk
Stephen Hinshaw, in his new book about increasing mental-health problems among today's adolescent girls, The Triple Bind, points to interactions between "vulnerable" genes and environmental pressures as a key to that dilemma.
(12 February)

Pressure to be a supergirl is causing teen mental health crisis
Expectations for teenage girls to be brainy, athletic, nurturing, and look like supermodels - while juggling homework, social networking and resumé-padding activities - are fueling a generational mental health crisis, according to a new book by UC Berkeley psychologist Stephen Hinshaw.
(10 February)

Survey Research Center marks half-century of data-based insight
Not just accumulating and disseminating reams of data, but interpreting it to help shape public policy, is the mission of Berkeley's Survey Research Center.
(05 February)

Research explores policy research and impressions of bias
A University of California, Berkeley, study shows that when people learn about research findings that conflict with their own beliefs about politically controversial topics, they not only doubt the conclusions, but also question the researcher's objectivity. The study by Robert MacCoun, a UC Berkeley professor of public policy, law and psychology, will be published in the February issue of the journal Political Psychology and already is online.
(03 February)

Retrofitted and revamped, Bancroft reopens to regular hours
The Bancroft Library is back - and it's better than ever. One of the University of California, Berkeley's premier special collections libraries, it reopened this week with regular hours following a three-year, $64 million seismic retrofit and upgrade.
(21 January)