Bambi Chapin, Sociology and Anthropology, on WYPR’s Maryland Morning

Bambi Chapin, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology, is the author of a compelling new book which offers a global perspective on the transmission of culture and childhood development. The book, Childhood in a Sri Lankan Village: Shaping Hierarchy and Desire, describes the results of Chapin’s anthropological research done while living for nearly two years in a central Sri Lankan village observing and studying how mothers were raising their children.

Bambi Chapin book

Chapin was interviewed on WYPR’s Maryland Morning about her new book and what she set out to discover: “How is it that people become the culturally shaped people we become? What happens in how we’re raised, in the experiences that we have that make us want to be in the relationships that we want to be in?” Chapin said. “How does culture get transmitted?”

Discussing her research further, Chapin said, “I really became interested in the subtle, every day kinds of interactions that produce such surprising results. I then tried to unpack that and use it as an example to call into question some of our assumptions of how children are and how they learn.”

“The people I knew in Sri Lanka thought that maturity was demonstrated by knowing when to hold your tongue, knowing who was wiser than you, who would make a better decision, and by choosing to go along with that,” she added.

To listen to interview in its entirety that aired July 9, click here.

Robert Provine, Psychology, in Real Simple

Psychology Professor Robert Provine appeared in the July 2014 edition of Real Simple magazine in an article about the evolution and science of laughter. The magazine published a lengthy article in the print edition and also posted a version of the article on its website.

Robert Provine

In the print version, Provine said that more research is needed, but it’s probable that those who laugh easily and often are happier than those who don’t. Laughter is “the sound of play,” he said. “So our brain automatically associates it with carefree interactions with friends, family and lovers.”

The article also cites one of Provine’s earliest research experiments in which he found that just listening to recorded laughter can often evoke fits of giggles. According to his research, you’re 30 times more likely to laugh when someone else is around than when you’re by yourself. “It’s highly contagious,” he said.

To read the online version of the article titled, “13 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Laughing,” click here.

Dennis Coates, Economics, on WAMU’s Metro Connection

Does it make sense to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Washington, D.C.? Economics Professor Dennis Coates recently shared his thoughts on this question on WAMU’s Metro Connection. The U.S. Olympic Committee has confirmed Washington, D.C. as a finalist to host the Olympics along with San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston.

Coates shared insight on whether the financial investment in hosting the Olympics in D.C. would be worth the return. “By and large most of the cities that hosted saw a decline relative to what would have happened had they not hosted the event,” he said. And the primary reason, he believes, is the crowds.

“People respond to the possibility of crowds, if they’re locals, by saying one of two things. One is ‘I’m getting out of Dodge,’ which means there is a lot of flight so normal expenditures don’t occur. The other is ‘I am not leaving my house,’” Coates said.

Coates also addressed the argument that hosting the Olympics can lead to investment and improvements in infrastructure. “If you need the infrastructure, build the infrastructure,” he said. “You don’t need to throw a party for the world to justify spending the money to redo highways, pave some roads, work on the subway system or whatever. It’s well justified if it’s worth doing; it doesn’t need a party to justify it.”

To listen to the full, six-minute interview with Coates that aired on Metro Connection, click here.

Center for Aging Studies Research Featured in McKnight’s

A recently published study involving researchers from UMBC’s Center for Aging Studies found that assisted living facilities and nursing homes should evaluate certain processes and features that can often lead residents to feel stigmatized.

Center for Aging Studies researchers Erin Roth, Susan Goldman, Amanda Peeples and Brandy Wallace conducted the study along with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of South Florida, Tampa. Their findings were recently published in The Gerontologist.

A June 27th article published in McKnight’s, a news magazine for long-term care providers, highlighted the research findings and their impact on decision making at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Below is an excerpt from the article:

“The findings were based on a total of about 250 interviews with residents, staff and family members of five senior living communities. Four had both assisted living and skilled nursing settings, and transitions between these settings is another trouble area identified by the investigators.”

“Whether individuals are drawn to a multilevel setting because it allows for transitional care without moving to a new campus, or in response to the less intense level of care (without giving thought to the other levels), the reality is that transitions within multilevel settings are more challenging than most anticipate,” the authors wrote.

To read the article in McKnight’s, click here. You can read the study published in The Gerontologist by clicking here.

Robert Provine, Psychology, on National Geographic Video

A new National Geographic video examines what laughter can do for human health. Psychology Professor Robert Provine appears in the video and provides insight on the origins of laughter, saying it begins at three to four months of age and is one of the most important forms of early communication between babies and mothers.

“It’s a kind of instinctive language that exists before we learn to talk. Laughter, like speech, evolved to change the behavior of other individuals,” Provine said.

“Does [laughter] have to have other purposes? It probably does, but we’re just now starting to tease out what those differences are,” he added. “Did the benefits of laughter come from the act of laughing or is it the social context, spending time with friends, family, and lovers? All of these are very difficult scientific issues that haven’t been teased out. But laughter clearly feels good when we do it. Isn’t that enough?”

You can find the video on National Geographic’s website here.

Ann Christine Frankowski, Center for Aging Studies, in The New York Times

In a recent article published in The New York Times blog “The New Old Age,” Ann Christine Frankowski provides insight into sexual behavior policies at assisted living facilities. Frankowski, a senior research scientist for UMBC’s Center for Aging Studies, has conducted studies in 23 Maryland assisted living complexes over the last several years and she says, “none of them have formalized policies to deal with sexual behavior.”

Frankowski commented further on the issue and said many aspects still need to be looked into, but she said assessing such policies at assisted living complexes is beginning to be brought to the forefront.

“Ascertaining whether encounters are consensual, who is capable of consent, how to balance couples’ privacy with that of other residents – ‘these issues have not been thought through,’ said Frankowski. ‘But people are beginning to talk about it.'”

You can read the full blog post titled “Sex in Assisted Living: Intimacy Without Privacy,” by clicking here.

Robert Provine, Psychology, on The Atlantic Video and ABC Australia Radio

Robert Provine“We have the illusion that laughter is a choice, that we speak laughter as we speak any other word. But we don’t speak hah-hah when we laugh. It’s an involuntary action,” says Psychology Professor Robert Provine in a compelling new video exploring why humans laugh. The video is part of The Atlantic Video web series.

Provine narrates the video and it’s broken into parts including segments on the anatomy of laughter and the danger of laughter. During one portion of the video, Provine visits The Commons at UMBC and conducts an experiment simply by sitting down and observing the people around him.

“Breakthroughs in science come from studying things that are simple and easily described. I call it sidewalk neuroscience,” says Provine. In the video, he listens to two people laughing nearby and highlights that social laughter is caused by relationships, not jokes.

Provine has been studying the social and neurological roots of laughter for 20 years and his latest book, Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond (2012), is an exploration of neglected human instincts.

To watch the complete video titled, “Why We Laugh,” click here 

Provine also participated in a recent discussion about laughter on ABC Australia Radio’s “Life Matters” program. To listen to the complete interview, click here.