View in Browser/Mobile January 2015

IPR enews



Research Traces Effects of Partisanship on American Politics

In the 114th Congress, sworn in last week, Republicans now hold their largest majority since 1928. Following the November election, House speaker John Boehner (R–OH) called for more bipartisan cooperation. Will senators, representatives, and even the president comply—or will Congress remain polarized, uncooperative, and unpopular? Congress’ actions serve to underscore the fact that partisanship (including bias in favor of one’s own party) and polarization have become deeply rooted in American politics. Several IPR political scientists have projects that investigate this phenomenon of growing polarization and partisanship in Congress, in the White House, and in the public sphere. MORE

Racial Disparities in America, Part II

The second part of the series examines IPR research on race, education, and neighborhoods, providing insights into how we might think about and address racial disparities. Part I looked at IPR research on interracial relations and racial disparities in health outcomes. MORE

Patient-Centered Outcomes: Do We Need
a New Paradigm for Biomedical Research?

Robert M. Kaplan, Chief Science Officer at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will give an IPR Distinguished Public Policy Lecture on February 9 at Northwestern University in Evanston. REGISTER

Faculty in the Media

Economists are finally connecting with the real world
In a discussion of the most interesting presentations at the American Economic Association's annual meeting, FiveThirtyEight highlighted IPR economist Diane Schanzenbach's research talk on weakened safety net programs during the Great Recession.

Science Friday
Picture of the week: Zinc spark
A study co-authored by oncofertility specialist and IPR associate Teresa Woodruff discovered the necessary role of a spark and release of zinc as an egg becomes fertilized and transitions to an embryo—a finding with major implications for understanding reproductive health and infertility.

Daily Mail
Talking to babies boosts their ability to make friends and learn, psychologists claim
IPR psychologist Sandra Waxman discusses a recent study on language and cognition in children, suggesting talking to infants promotes more than just better vocabulary later on—it leads to better cognitive and social abilities that "form the foundation for subsequent learning."

The Scientist
Stress fractures: Social adversity shapes human immune system
The article discusses studies on the link between social stress and proinflammatory gene expression by UCLA psychologist Steve Cole, including two with IPR health psychologist Greg Miller that examine people caring for sick family members and those with long-term interpersonal troubles.

WGN Radio
Neighborhood Crime and Justice Study
IPR political scientist Wesley G. Skogan spoke to WGN Radio's Outside the Loop program about his recently launched study investigating public perceptions of Chicago police.

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Our heroes: Others watch.
They rush in.

IPR social psychologist Alice Eagly was interviewed by the St. Paul Pioneer Press about the physical characteristics of ordinary people who engage in acts of heroism.

Find these and other clips HERE.
News & Research

Faculty Spotlight: James Rosenbaum
Those outside of academia sometimes accuse researchers of working in an ivory tower—of offering policy solutions that sound good on paper, but result in little real-world impact. IPR education researcher James Rosenbaum was determined to be a different kind of researcher. “My goal has really been to make research that can be helpful in the policy world,” Rosenbaum said. Throughout his career, he has led studies that have had important implications for improving outcomes for U.S. students and the disadvantaged. MORE


Online "Turbulence": Who Experiences the Bumpiest Ride?
In a world where social network sites allow us to share information with hundreds of people in mere seconds, it is not surprising that some Internet users experience “turbulence”—times when their personal information is distributed beyond their desired or intended social circles with negative consequences. But who is more likely to encounter such online turbulence? Communications studies researcher and IPR associate Eszter Hargittai and graduate student Eden Litt examine the issue in a recent study. MORE

Understanding Immigrant Sexual Citizenship
Issues of immigration and of gay rights continue to make American headlines, yet “there’s been very little public attention to the ways that issues of immigration and issues of sexuality might actually have something to do with one another,” said sociologist and IPR associate Steven Epstein. Recently, Epstein, along with sociologist and IPR associate Héctor Carrillo and their research team, interviewed gay and bisexual male Mexican immigrants, about their experiences as immigrants to the United States. MORE

Improving Earthquake Maps to Save Lives, Minimize Damages
In 2011, the 9.0-magnitude Tohoku earthquake and the resulting tsunami killed more than 15,000 people and caused nearly $300 billion in damages. The shaking from the earthquake was significantly larger than Japan’s national hazard map had predicted, devastating areas forecasted to be relatively safe. Such hazard-mapping failures prompted three Northwestern researchers—geophysicist and IPR associate Seth Stein, IPR statistician Bruce Spencer, and graduate student Edward Brooks—to search for better ways to construct, evaluate, and communicate the predictions of hazard maps.

Teaching ABCs in a Digital Classroom
From federal and local tax dollars to finance “one-on-one” classrooms, where each student has a tablet or laptop, to technology-related grants from donors like the Gates Foundation, millions of dollars for technology in classrooms are being funneled into K-12 schools across the country. Yet, as existing research points out, though more is being spent on classroom technology, its successful integration into lesson plans is another matter. Communication studies researcher and IPR associate Ellen Wartella and her colleagues are examining this puzzling relationship.

New IPR Working Papers

Find all IPR working papers HERE.

“Competition over the Politicization of Science” (WP-14-20)

Toby Bolsen and James Druckman

Few trends in science have generated as much discussion as its politicization—when one explores science's inherent uncertainty to promote a particular agenda. Politicization can stunt support for scientific adaptations by generating uncertainty about whether one can trust scientific information. Bolsen and Druckman study the effects of counteractive communications that precede or follow the politicization of science. Their results provide novel insights about science communication in a politicized era and offer a blueprint for future research.

“The Generalizability of Survey Experiments” (WP-14-19)

Kevin Mullinix, James Druckman, and Jeremy Freese

The expense and difficulty of employing population-based samples in survey experiments has led many to turn to inexpensive online convenience samples, such as the crowdsourcing platform Amazon Mechanical Turk. But what about the external validity of results from these samples? Mullinix, Druckman, and Freese identify and test conditions where these convenience samples provide experimental inferences similar to those of population samples. Results from 20 experiments implemented on both sample types often show highly similar results and a predictable divergence.

“Developmental Histories of Perceived Racial/Ethnic Discrimination and Diurnal Cortisol Profiles in Adulthood:
A 20-Year Prospective Study”

Emma Adam, Jennifer Heissel, Katharine Zeiders, Jennifer Richeson, Emily Ross, Katherine Ehrlich, Dorainne Levy, Margaret Kemeny, Amanda Brodish, Oksana Malanchuk, Stephen Peck, Thomas Fuller-Rowell, and Jacquelynne Eccles

The researchers investigate whether developmental histories of perceived ethnic/racial discrimination (PRD) matter for adult diurnal cortisol profiles. Using adult saliva samples and predicting adult diurnal cortisol measures from measures of PRD obtained over 20 years, they find that greater average PRD predicted flatter diurnal cortisol slopes for both black and white participants. For blacks only, greater average PRD predicted lower waking cortisol and lower total cortisol across the day—which typically indicates chronic stress. These effects were driven by adolescent PRD experiences. Though PRD appears to affect both black and white cortisol profiles, effects are stronger for black participants.

“Citizens', Scientists', and Policy Advisors' Beliefs About Global Warming” (WP-14-17)

Toby Bolsen, James Druckman, and Fay Lomax Cook

In their working paper, Bolsen, Druckman, and Cook draw on data from three parallel surveys of the U.S. public, scientists who actively publish research on U.S. energy technologies, and congressional policy advisors. They find that beliefs about global warming diverge markedly in comparing the views of all three. Scientists and policy advisors are more likely than the public to express a belief in the existence of the human-induced nature of global warming; however, similar to the public, policy advisors—and to a lesser degree scientists—are ideologically polarized over global warming.

Upcoming Events

1/26/15 - “The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms” by Kirabo Jackson (IPR/HDSP)

2/2/15 - "Class Action: Socioeconomic Discrimination in Law Firm Hiring” by Lauren Rivera (Kellogg/IPR)

2/9/15 - "Patient-Centered Outcomes: Do We Need a New Paradigm for Biomedical Research?" by Robert M. Kaplan (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HHS)

2/11/15 -"Quality and Statistical Analysis of Sets of National Files" by William Winkler (U.S. Census Bureau)

Find the complete calendar HERE.

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