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Posthumously Conceived Children: An International and Human Rights Perspective

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Posthumously Conceived Children: An International and Human Rights Perspective
Source: Journal of Law & Health

This essay considers posthumous conception from an international and child-centered approach. After a sketch in Part I of the phenomenon of posthumous conception and the complexities it evokes, Part II examines the types of issues arising in court cases concerning posthumous conception. Part III considers how courts in their rulings have addressed the welfare and best interests of posthumously conceived children and analyzes the scope and meaning of relevant decisions. Part IV looks into children’s rights or interests raised in those judicial decisions: parental acknowledgement, family structures, identity harm, and inheritance and social benefits. This part draws on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a prime instrument to advance children’s rights on the international level, incorporating as much as possible the perspectives of children. I argue that the discourse must include concern for the rights and interests of posthumously conceived children and that a new special category of children who are “outcast” cannot stand the test of equality and non-discrimination, nor of the entrenched principles of child welfare and best interests. Moreover, I suggest that attending to children’s perspectives may illuminate the gaps in the current discourse and what needs to be addressed. Finally, Part V draws some conclusions and calls for a more relational approach to ensure that posthumously conceived children do not pay the price of their parents’ decisions and that their welfare and best interests are upheld.

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Web-Based Intervention Programs for Depression: A Scoping Review and Evaluation

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Web-Based Intervention Programs for Depression: A Scoping Review and Evaluation
Source: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Background:
Although depression is known to affect millions of people worldwide, individuals seeking aid from qualified health care professionals are faced with a number of barriers to treatment including a lack of treatment resources, limited number of qualified service providers, stigma associated with diagnosis and treatment, prolonged wait times, cost, and barriers to accessibility such as transportation and clinic locations. The delivery of depression interventions through the Internet may provide a practical solution to addressing some of these barriers.

Objective:
The purpose of this scoping review was to answer the following questions: (1) What Web-delivered programs are currently available that offer an interactive treatment component for depression?, (2) What are the contents, accessibility, and usability of each identified program?, and (3) What tools, supports, and research evidence are available for each identified program?

Methods:
Using the popular search engines Google, Yahoo, and Bing (Canadian platforms), two reviewers independently searched for interactive Web-based interventions targeting the treatment of depression. The Beacon website, an information portal for online health applications, was also consulted. For each identified program, accessibility, usability, tools, support, and research evidence were evaluated and programs were categorized as evidence-based versus non-evidence-based if they had been the subject of at least one randomized controlled trial. Programs were scored using a 28-point rating system, and evidence- versus non-evidence-based programs were compared and contrasted. Although this review included all programs meeting exclusion and inclusion criteria found using the described search method, only English language Web-delivered depression programs were awarded an evaluation score.

Results:
The review identified 32 programs meeting inclusion criteria. There was a great deal of variability among the programs captured in this evaluation. Many of the programs were developed for general adolescent or adult audiences, with few (n=2) focusing on special populations (eg, military personnel, older adults). Cognitive behavioral therapy was the most common therapeutic approach used in the programs described. Program interactive components included mood assessments and supplementary homework sheets such as activity planning and goal setting. Only 12 of the programs had published evidence in support of their efficacy and treatment of depressive symptoms.

Conclusions:
There are a number of interactive depression interventions available through the Internet. Recommendations for future programs, or the adaptation of existing programs include offering a greater selection of alternative languages, removing registration restrictions, free trial periods for programs requiring user fees, and amending programs to meet the needs of special populations (eg, those with cognitive and/or visual impairments). Furthermore, discussion of specific and relevant topics to the target audience while also enhancing overall user control would contribute to a more accessible intervention tool.

How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay

October 22, 2014 Comments off

How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay (PDF)
Source: Perspectives on Psychological Science (forthcoming)

Do people from different countries and different backgrounds have similar preferences for how much more the rich should earn than the poor? Using survey data from 40 countries (N = 55,238), we compare respondents’ estimates of the wages of people in different occupations – chief executive officers, cabinet ministers, and unskilled workers – to their ideals for what those wages should be. We show that ideal pay gaps between skilled and unskilled workers are significantly smaller than estimated pay gaps, and that there is consensus across countries, socioeconomic status, and political beliefs for ideal pay ratios. Moreover, data from 16 countries reveals that people dramatically underestimate actual pay inequality. In the United States – where underestimation was particularly pronounced – the actual pay ratio of CEOs to unskilled workers (354:1) far exceeded the estimated ratio (30:1) which in turn far exceeded the ideal ratio (7:1). In sum, respondents underestimate actual pay gaps, and their ideal pay gaps are even further from reality than those underestimates.

Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From a Climate Perspective

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From a Climate Perspective (PDF)
Source: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

Attribution of extreme events is a challenging science and one that is currently undergoing considerable evolution. In this paper, 20 different research groups explored the causes of 16 different events that occurred in 2013. The findings indicate that human-caused climate change greatly increased the risk for the extreme heat waves assessed in this report. How human influence affected other types of events such as droughts, heavy rain events, and storms was less clear, indicating that natural variability likely played a much larger role in these extremes. Multiple groups chose to look at both the Australian heat waves and the California drought, providing an opportunity to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of various methodologies. There was considerable agreement about the role anthropogenic climate change played in the events between the different assessments. This year three analyses were of severe storms and none found an anthropogenic signal. However, attribution assessments of these types of events pose unique challenges due to the often limited observational record. When human-influence for an event is not identified with the scientific tools available to us today, this means that if there is a human contribution, it cannot be distinguished from natural climate variability.

Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies

October 21, 2014 Comments off

Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies
Source: Pediatrics

OBJECTIVES:
To assess desensitization in parents’ repeated exposure to violence and sex in movies.

METHODS:
A national US sample of 1000 parents living with at least 1 target child in 1 of 3 age groups (6 to 17 years old) viewed a random sequence of 3 pairs of short scenes with either violent or sexual content from popular movies that were unrestricted to youth audiences (rated PG-13 or unrated) or restricted to those under age 17 years without adult supervision (rated R). Parents indicated the minimum age they would consider appropriate to view each film. Predictors included order of presentation, parent and child characteristics, and parent movie viewing history.

RESULTS:
As exposure to successive clips progressed, parents supported younger ages of appropriate exposure, starting at age 16.9 years (95% confidence interval [CI], 16.8 to 17.0) for violence and age 17.2 years (95% CI, 17.0 to 17.4) for sex, and declining to age 13.9 years (95% CI, 13.7 to 14.1) for violence and 14.0 years (95% CI, 13.7 to 14.3) for sex. Parents also reported increasing willingness to allow their target child to view the movies as exposures progressed. Desensitization was observed across parent and child characteristics, violence toward both human and non-human victims, and movie rating. Those who frequently watched movies were more readily desensitized to violence.

CONCLUSIONS:
Parents become desensitized to both violence and sex in movies, which may contribute to the increasing acceptance of both types of content by both parents and the raters employed by the film industry.

Hat tip: PW

Conscious Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans Using Non-Invasive Technologies

October 19, 2014 Comments off

Conscious Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans Using Non-Invasive Technologies
Source: PLoS ONE

Human sensory and motor systems provide the natural means for the exchange of information between individuals, and, hence, the basis for human civilization. The recent development of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) has provided an important element for the creation of brain-to-brain communication systems, and precise brain stimulation techniques are now available for the realization of non-invasive computer-brain interfaces (CBI). These technologies, BCI and CBI, can be combined to realize the vision of non-invasive, computer-mediated brain-to-brain (B2B) communication between subjects (hyperinteraction). Here we demonstrate the conscious transmission of information between human brains through the intact scalp and without intervention of motor or peripheral sensory systems. Pseudo-random binary streams encoding words were transmitted between the minds of emitter and receiver subjects separated by great distances, representing the realization of the first human brain-to-brain interface. In a series of experiments, we established internet-mediated B2B communication by combining a BCI based on voluntary motor imagery-controlled electroencephalographic (EEG) changes with a CBI inducing the conscious perception of phosphenes (light flashes) through neuronavigated, robotized transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), with special care taken to block sensory (tactile, visual or auditory) cues. Our results provide a critical proof-of-principle demonstration for the development of conscious B2B communication technologies. More fully developed, related implementations will open new research venues in cognitive, social and clinical neuroscience and the scientific study of consciousness. We envision that hyperinteraction technologies will eventually have a profound impact on the social structure of our civilization and raise important ethical issues.

Attributes of Truthful Versus Deceitful Statements in the Evaluation of Accused Child Molesters

October 18, 2014 Comments off

Attributes of Truthful Versus Deceitful Statements in the Evaluation of Accused Child Molesters
Source: Sage Open

The ability to detect deception, in everyday social interactions and psychological evaluations, can literally mean the difference between life and death. Beyond physiological and nonverbal techniques for detecting deception, research has focused on criteria designed to evaluate the content of verbal statements to distinguish between true or actually experienced events versus internally manufactured or fabricated events. Criteria from two techniques that have received empirical support, criteria-based content analysis and reality monitoring, were used to create an 11-item Deception Detection Checklist (DDCL). In this study, 130 college undergraduates used the DDCL to rate the exculpatory statements of two accused child molesters: one truthful, the other untruthful. The 11 items composing the DDCL, as well as a measure of perceived truthfulness, were all scored on 7-point Likert-type scales. Nine of the 11 items on the DDCL significantly differentiated between the true and untrue statements in the predicted direction. Overall scores on the DDCL indicated that the false statement was rated as significantly more deceptive than the true statement. The DDCL possessed good reliability, and a series of factor analyses provided strong support for the construct validity of the measure. The 7 psychometrically strongest items from the DDCL included variables assessing the extent to which statements included clarity of detail, spatial details, temporal details, and contextual details, as well as the relevance, reconstructability, and realism of the statement. These results indicate that subjects were able to use this measure to reliably differentiate between true and false statements made by accused child molesters.

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