2013 January

USA Today

Professor: Armstrong deflects blame for his cheating: Communication professor John Llewellyn knows the right words have power. So how effective was Lance Armstrong’s apology during his interview with Oprah Winfrey? In a story in USA Today by Tom O’Toole, Llewellyn said, “Armstrong is a really smart guy who outsmarted everybody. You find this a lot if you check FBI profilers. … The law of gravity still applies. You can run off the ledge of the Grand Canyon and be the smartest guy, and gravity is still going to have its say.” Llewellyn was not swayed during the 90-minute show. “I give him 2 out of 10 for ponying up, but if you go through this very carefully, his fingerprints aren’t on very much of the activity. There’s a lot of deflection. There are motives offered for people who outed him, even while he is acknowledging that they spoke the truth.”

USA Today

Are parents happier? Dads may be, but not moms, singles: New research in the journal Psychological Science finds that overall, “parents (and especially fathers) report relatively higher levels of happiness, positive emotion, and meaning in life than do non-parents.” However, according to Robin Simon, a sociology professor at Wake Forest, “There is no sociological study I’m aware of that shows parents do better than non-parents.” Simon has conducted research that found parents are less happy than non-parents. She is working with others on two large, not-yet-published studies that also find lower physical and mental health among parents. “I’m absolutely confident in saying that across these large data sets, parents do not enjoy better mental and physical health than non-parents,” Simon says. “In fact, the evidence clearly points in the opposite direction: Parents report lower levels of happiness, higher levels of depressive symptoms and assess their physical health as poorer than persons who never had children. The stress of parenthood is enormous, and it’s especially stressful in the United States,” she says. “Parents do not do better than non-parents. Parents do worse. It’s a cautionary warning: You should know what you’re getting into.”

The Washington Post

Why 64.8 percent of Americans didn’t get a flu shot:

What can convince Americans to get immunized? Researchers at Wake Forest University recently conducted an experiment on this subject, and their findings weren’t exactly optimistic. The team — led by economists Fred Chen, Allin Cottrell and Amanda Griffith — had participants play a not-so-fun video game that simulated the spread of the flu. Players could earn points (later converted into gift cards) by staying healthy. They could also spend some of those points to buy a vaccine. In other words, they faced a choice: Should they pony up on a preventive measure early or roll the dice, save a few bucks and not buy the vaccine Researchers found that a few external factors made participants more likely to buy a vaccine. If the immunization was cheaper, vaccination rates went up. As the number of infections went up, too, players became more likely to decide to take the plunge and pay for immunization.  — Excerpt from Wonkblog post written by Sarah Kliff

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Private-College Presidents Urge a Commitment to Need-Based Aid: A 2009 study by economics professor Amanda L. Griffith found that “the increased use of merit aid is associated with a decrease in enrollment of low-income and minority students. Her study has influenced a new policy arguing for ending the use of the term “merit aid.”

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s story, a group of private-college presidents is taking a first step toward publicly opposing the rising use of merit-based financial aid and the decline in need-based aid. The move comes via a draft pledge unveiled at the Council of Independent Colleges’ annual Presidents Institute. The one-page document argues for ending the use of the term “merit aid” on participating colleges’ Web sites and in their admissions literature…”

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Alternative Networks Challenge Colleges’ Role in Alumni’s Job Searches: Wake Forest University knows the value of professional networking. In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Vice President for Personal and Career Development Andy Chan says colleges should offer services that help graduates navigate the job market. To that end, Wake Forest students are encouraged to maintain a LinkedIn profile and coaches are available to help review student profiles and make suggestions on improving them.

The University also uses LinkedIn to connect current students with alumni. “Most college students are not thinking, ‘I need to network. I need to make contacts,'” Chan says. But he has found that alumni are often eager to help: “Employers and young alums are interested in engaging with students because they remember how hard it is just out of school.”


E.J. Masicampo

30 Days, 30 Ways to (Really!) Turn Your Resolutions into Reality: Want to keep your New Year’s resolutions? E.J. Masicampo, an assistant professor of psychology, says you should picture yourself carrying out your plan. “Imagining yourself doing something has a similar effect on the brain as actually doing it. Since keeping resolutions is often about creating new habits, you can get a head start on developing the desired behavior,” he says. Another tip: “Every time you engage in a behavior, you make it easier to enact again later on, so create a routine and stick to it.” Masicampo recommends performing a goal-related activity … in the same place, every day or week to create a new, goal-supporting habit.