blog navigation

Social Sciences

blog posts

  • Graduate student and lead author Kyle Bennett standing outdoors with social work professor and lead app developer Douglas C. Smith

    Mobile app helps young adults talk with friends about risky drug, alcohol use

    A smartphone app called Harbor, created by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, teaches young adults how to talk to a peer if they are concerned about that other person’s drinking or drug use.

  • Professor Rosalba Hernandez assists visual media designer Drew Fast in using a virtual reality headset as part of their research into using the technology to help kidney dialysis patients ameliorate the physical effects and tedium of their dialysis treatments.

    Virtual reality program lessens physical side effects of hemodialysis

    A virtual reality program on mindfulness/meditation helped hemodialysis patients alleviate the physical side effects and tedium of their treatments in a new research project led by social work professor Rosalba Hernandez.

  • Craig Koslofsky is an Illinois history professor. His new book, co-written with Roberto Zaugg, translates the journal of a barber-surgeon in the Atlantic slave trade.

    Rediscovered journal brings unique perspective on Atlantic slave trade

    The trade that brought enslaved Africans to the New World was not just a story of slave ship captains and their human cargo. Many others were part of the machinery, among them a young German barber-surgeon who kept a journal. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign history professor Craig Koslofsky and co-author Roberto Zaugg of the University of Zurich translated his account and put it in context.

  • Two women who participated in the program stand in the clinic that hosted the program.

    Patient education program with mental health component reduces cardiovascular disease risks

    Participants in a health education program that included both mental and physical health information significantly reduced their risk factors for cardiovascular disease and maintained most of those improvements six months later.

  • The new book "Photographic Presidents" charts the evolution of photography through its interactions with U.S. presidents. University of Illinois professor Cara Finnegan is the author.

    New history of photography focuses on presidents

    From the advent of photography to the age of social media, U.S. presidents have been among the most common subjects for the camera. So what better way to tell a story of the medium’s evolution than through those historical figures. Cara Finnegan, a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign communication professor, does just that in “Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital,” publishing this spring.

  • Portrait of Junghwan Kim outside a university building.

    Culture shapes willingness to share personal data to reduce COVID-19 spread

    Culture, civic-mindedness and privacy concerns influence how willing people are to share personal location information to help stem the transmission of COVID-19 in their communities, a new study finds. Such sharing includes giving public health authorities access to their geographic information via data gathered from phone calls, mobile apps, credit card purchases, wristband trackers or other technologies.

  • Sociology professor Tim Liao led a recently published study that examined the association between inequality and COVID-19 cases and deaths in U.S. counties.

    COVID-19 cases, deaths in U.S. increase with higher income inequality

    U.S. counties with higher income inequality faced higher rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the earlier months of the pandemic, according to a new study led by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign sociology professor Tim Liao. Counties with higher proportions of Black or Hispanic residents also had higher rates, the study found, reinforcing earlier research showing the disparate effects of the virus on those communities.

  • Photo of Alison Dickson, a senior instructor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

    Paper: Underemployment pervasive for part-time workers in Illinois

    As many as 61% of hourly workers in Illinois are underemployed, underscoring the need for the state to adopt a fair-workweek law, says Alison Dickson, a senior instructor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

  • A carpenter bee on the Illinois campus last summer.

    Pollinators not getting the 'buzz' they need in news coverage

    A dramatic decline in bees and other pollinating insects presents a threat to the global food supply, yet it’s getting little attention in mainstream news, says a new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study. The research is based on a search of millions of news items in the university’s Global News Index, a unique database that draws from thousands of global news sources and decades of their publications.

  • Psychology professors Sanda Dolcos, left, and Florin Dolcos stand in an empty seating area in the Beckman Institute.

    Study: Religion, psychology share methods for reducing distress

    Religious people facing life crises rely on emotion-regulation strategies that psychologists also use, a new study finds. They look for positive ways of thinking about hardship, a practice known to psychologists as “cognitive reappraisal.” They also tend to have confidence in their ability to cope with difficulty, a trait called “coping self-efficacy.” Both have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  • U. of I. social work professor Kevin Tan standing outside the Mahomet-Seymour School District building with director of instruction Nicole Rummel and superintendent Lindsey Hall, both of Mahomet-Seymour school district.

    Projects explore role of social-emotional learning in healing racial wounds

    U. of I. scholars are coordinating online parenting seminars and activities for students and staff members at two Illinois school systems that will explore the role of social and emotional learning in healing racial wounds. 

  • Portrait of Fan Xuan Chen. He is standing with arms crossed.

    Efforts to combat COVID-19 perceived as morally right

    According to new research, people tend to moralize COVID-19-control efforts and are more willing to endorse human costs emerging from COVID-19-related restrictions than to accept costs resulting from other restraints meant to prevent injury or death. The level of support – and resulting outrage in response to perceived violations of this moral ideal – differs between liberals and conservatives.

  • Liliane Windsor standing outdoors wearing a tan winter coat

    Study adapting HIV/AIDS behavioral interventions to mitigate COVID-19

    A research project funded by the National Institutes of Health is exploring whether interventions effective at engaging high-risk populations in HIV/AIDS testing and treatment can be adapted to mitigate COVID-19.

  • Man wearing face mask shown in car's side view mirror. In front of his car, workers wearing safety gear are preparing to test patients for COVID-19.

    Projects offer COVID-19 testing, explore virus transmission's social factors

    U. of I. researchers, local clinicians and volunteers are providing pop-up COVID-19 testing clinics in Rantoul, Illinois, to essential workers and other high-risk residents, and are exploring the behavioral factors behind infection clusters.

  • Portrait of Gratton and Fabiani

    Cocoa flavanols boost brain oxygenation, cognition in healthy adults

    The brains of healthy adults recovered faster from a mild vascular challenge and performed better on complex tests if the participants consumed cocoa flavanols beforehand, researchers report.

  • Illinois history professor David Sepkoski’s book “Catastrophic Thinking” examines how concerns about threats to the planet and human race came to be.

    Today's catastrophic concerns shaped by past interactions between science, culture

    A global pandemic, wildfires and hurricanes have made 2020 a year of catastrophes. David Sepkoski’s new book “Catastrophic Thinking” looks at how current-day concerns about threats to both the planet and the human race came to be. Sepkoski is a history professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, specializing in the history of science.

  • Photo of information sciences professor Madelyn Sanfilippo

    Disaster apps share personal data in violation of their privacy policies

    Information sciences professor Madelyn Sanfilippo examined popular disaster apps and found that many of them provide personal information – including a user’s location – to third parties long after a disaster has passed.

  • We may want to question some assumptions about state-level voting predictions and the role of the pandemic in the recent election, says Illinois professor Scott Althaus.

    Should we rethink assumptions about the 2020 election?

    The polls prior to Election Day and other circumstances suggested to many that the presidential results would be different than they were. We may want to question some assumptions about state-level voting predictions and the role of the pandemic, says Scott Althaus, a professor of both political science and communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Illinois media professor Harsh Taneja co-wrote a study that found numerous ways corporations “nudge” our attention on the internet.

    Corporations directing our attention online more than we realize

    We don’t have the control we think we do in browsing the internet. Our notion of empowerment to see and find what we choose is “an illusion,” say the authors of a study – including Illinois media professor Harsh Taneja – that analyzed browsing data on a million people over one month of internet use. Corporations are “nudging” the flow of our online attention more than we realize, and often in ways that are hidden or beyond our control.

  • Food chemistry professor Shelly J. Schmidt

    Distracted learning a big problem, golden opportunity for educators, students

    Experts say media multitasking negatively impacts learning, but many students believe they're immune to these effects because they're good multitaskers, according to a review paper by U. of I. professor Shelly J. Schmidt.

  • Illinois history professor Adrian Burgos Jr. is a co-author of a new book for the Smithsonian about baseball’s role in Latino culture in the U.S.

    Illinois professor part of Latino baseball project and book for Smithsonian

    Baseball is as central to Latino culture as it is to the broader American culture, and Adrian Burgos Jr. helps document that history as a co-author of a book for the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Burgos is a history professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who specializes in the history of sports, in particular the role of Latinos and African Americans in baseball.

  • A. Naomi Paik, an Asian American studies professor at Illinois, lays out the long history behind current U.S. immigration policies in a new book.

    Today's immigration policies rooted in long history, author says

    No matter how one feels about current U.S. immigration policies, they did not come out of the blue but are based in a long history, says A. Naomi Paik, an Asian American studies professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She lays out aspects of that history in a new book.

  • Illinois political science professor Brian Gaines has some suggestions for choosing how to cast a ballot this fall – by mail or in person – and what to watch for in the election.

    In person or by mail? What to consider in choosing how to vote

    Voters this fall must determine not only who they’re voting for, but also the safest way to cast a ballot. Brian Gaines, a political science professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, maps out some risks to consider and mistakes to avoid. He also cautions against leaping to conclusions about any alleged irregularities on Election Day.

  • Photo of open cookbook and vanilla crescent cookies being made

    Illinois archivist's prize-winning essay reveals Jewish origins of Viennese cuisine

    University of Illinois archivist Susanne Belovari won the 2020 Sophie Coe Prize for her work on the forgotten history of Viennese cuisine.

  • Portrait of Jessica Brinkworth, standing facing the camera and smiling. She is outdoors on the U. of I. campus.

    Cell-autonomous immunity shaped human evolution

    Every human cell harbors its own defenses against microbial invaders, relying on strategies that date back to some of the earliest events in the history of life. Understanding this “cell-autonomous immunity” is essential to understanding human evolution and human medicine, researchers report.

  • Illinois communication professor Ned O’Gorman argues for the necessity of politics, but “authentic politics,” not winner-take-all.

    Have we gone too far trashing politics?

    We’ve gone too far in trashing politics, no matter how much the campaign season may prompt us to do so, says Ned O’Gorman, a communication professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Politics is a good thing, but our views of politics have become “twisted.” His recent book “Politics for Everybody” argues for “authentic politics” that focus on different people getting along and working things out, not winner-take-all.

  • University of Illinois professor Ghassan Moussawi

    Illinois professor uses LGBTQ voices in Beirut to understand daily violence, disruption

    Ghassan Moussawi, a professor of gender and women’s studies and of sociology, examines the daily survival strategies of Beirut’s LGBTQ residents in his new book “Disruptive Situations: Fractal Orientalism and Queer Strategies in Beirut.”

  • Illinois history professor Adrian Burgos Jr. specializes in the history of sports, in particular the role of Latinos and African Americans.

    What’s different about recent athlete protests?

    In the history of protest in sports, the recent strikes by professional athletes in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are unprecedented, says Adrian Burgos Jr., a professor of history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign who specializes in the history of sports. The resumption of pro sports during a pandemic has made the players’ platform even more prominent, he says, and some have used it to try to communicate their lived reality beyond their role as athletes.

  • Kate Clancy stands in her laboratory. She is wearing a maroon shirt, has her arms crossed, and she is smiling.

    Quick fixes won’t stop sexual harassment in academia, experts say

    While many academic institutions are searching for ways to prevent sexual assault and sexual coercion among their faculty members, staff and students, they are failing to address the most common forms of gender-based harassment, say experts who study harassment and discrimination at work and in academic and health care settings. 

    In an opinion published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the experts focus on behaviors that communicate derision, disgust or disrespect for members of one sex or gender group.

  • Photo of Ian Brooks, the director of the Center for Health Informatics

    Where does the U.S. withdrawal leave the World Health Organization?

    A global response, such as that organized by the World Health Organization, is needed to control the COVID-19 pandemic, says Ian Brooks, a research scientist whose focus is global health informatics.

  • Social work professor Kevin Tan sitting at his desk in his office on the University of Illinois campus

    Teens who crave excitement more likely to smoke, use multiple illicit substances

    A new study of high school seniors in the U.S. suggests that teens who are less satisfied with their lives and seek out risky experiences and exciting, unpredictable friends are more likely to use multiple illicit substances regularly.

  • Illinois journalism professor Nikki Usher’s recent study with colleague Yee Man Margaret Ng looked at how Washington, D.C., journalists cluster on Twitter.

    Journalists’ Twitter use shows them talking within smaller bubbles

    Washington, D.C., journalists are clustering not in one “Beltway bubble” but in a collection of “microbubbles,” based on a recent study of their Twitter postings. It means they “may be even more insular than previously thought,” say Illinois journalism professors Nikki Usher and Yee Man Margaret Ng.

  • Ian Brooks, the director of the Center for Health Informatics

    CHIME in Illinois puts students to work on COVID-related data science projects

    An international public health initiative connects students and public health agencies with data-information needs.

  • Photo of U. of I. social work professor Lissette Piedra leaning against a bookcase in her office

    Spirituality, financial security essential to Latinos’ positive aging

    Financial security and spirituality are essential to positive aging in Latino older adults, and programs designed for this population should prioritize these elements, a new study indicates.

  • Illinois professors Leanne Knobloch, left, and Angharad Valdivia have been elected Fellows of the International Communication Association.

    Two Illinois communication scholars elected ICA Fellows

    Leanne Knobloch and Angharad Valdivia, both professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have been elected Fellows of the International Communication Association, in recognition of distinguished scholarly contributions to the broad field of communication. Two other Illinois faculty members received the same honor last year.

  • Illinois advertising professor Jason Chambers specializes in the history of advertising related to African Americans.

    Why are familiar brands with Black images getting a rethink?

    At least one familiar brand is being retired and others are getting a rethink due to their use of Black images. Illinois advertising professor Jason Chambers explains why.

  • Illinois architecture professor Benjamin Bross

    How will public spaces change as result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Pandemics have changed our physical spaces throughout history, but changes made as a result of COVID-19 may not be long-lasting, says Illinois architecture professor Benjamin Bross.

  • 1.	Michael Schlosser is the director of the Police Training Institute, which has developed training programs that give police officers a better understanding of their own implicit biases and expose them to some of the issues that will be important when they interact with diverse communities.

    What can police trainers learn from the current crisis?

    Police reform is on the national agenda in response to the choking death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in late May – and many other such incidents before and since. Police Training Institute director Michael Schlosser weighed in on the current crisis. Based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the PTI trains dozens of police departments across the state of Illinois. Schlosser spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates.

  • A. Naomi Paik, a professor of Asian American studies at Illinois, studies policing and prisons as part of her research.

    Why the calls for defunding police?

    Calls for defunding or even abolishing the police in the wake of George Floyd’s death may sound radical to many, but the idea is not new, says A. Naomi Paik, a professor of Asian American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Photos of law professor Michelle D. Layser and urban and regional planning professor Andrew Greenlee.

    Housing instability undermines public health response to COVID-19 pandemic

    Housing instability threatens to undermine the U.S. public health response to COVID-19, says a new working paper co-written by an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Opposition to sexual- and gender-minority rights linked to support for Christian dominance

    Many Christian and political conservatives in the U.S. support legislation to deny sexual and gender minorities the rights most Americans enjoy: unfettered access to jobs, housing, services and public facilities; the opportunity to marry as they choose; and the right to adopt a child. A new study published in the American Journal of Community Psychology offers insight into the factors that correlate with support for such laws.

  • Masooda Bashir

    Do COVID-19 apps protect your privacy?

    Many mobile apps that track the spread of COVID-19 ask for personal data but don’t indicate the information will be secure.

  • Social work professor Kevin Tan and alumna Jenna White standing outdoors

    Study examines impact of high school teacher and student views of freshmen's social, emotional needs

    When high school freshmen’s teachers give them lower scores on communication skills, the students receive four times as many disciplinary referrals as some of their peers, a new study found.

  • Travis Dixon is a professor of communication at Illinois whose research deals with stereotypes in the mass media and their impact.

    Is it possible to overcome our biases in the face of conflict?

    Our biases, conscious and unconscious, influence how we process news of events like the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, and the media plays an important part in forming and reinforcing those biases, says Travis Dixon, a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • portraits of Jennifer Hardesty and Brian Ogolsky, both professors of human development and family studies at the U. of I.

    What have we learned about intimate partner violence?

    Human development and family studies professors Jennifer Hardesty and Brian Ogolsky discuss their recent study on intimate partner violence.

  • Two Indian corn plants standing in the sun.

    Cahokia's rise parallels onset of corn agriculture

    Corn cultivation spread from Mesoamerica to what is now the American Southwest by about 4000 B.C., but how and when the crop made it to other parts of North America is still a subject of debate. In a new study, scientists report that corn was not grown in the ancient metropolis of Cahokia until sometime between A.D. 900 and 1000, a relatively late date that corresponds to the start of the city’s rapid expansion.

  • Photos of doctoral student Gaurav Sinha and social work professor Lissette Piedra k

    Study examines India's policies for financial inclusion of the unbanked

    A new analysis examines why India has had limited success at bringing the unbanked into the formal economy despite numerous policy initiatives.

  • Scholars and scientists have made key discoveries in the past decade about the 14th-century plague known as the Black Death, says history professor Carol Symes.

    What's new with the plague? More than you might think

    Pandemics of the past are getting new attention, among them the plague of the 14th century. Known as the Black Death, it was medieval, European, bubonic and spread by rats – at least that’s what most of us think. Much of that needs adjustment, however, in large part due to discoveries of the past decade, says Carol Symes, a professor of medieval history at Illinois.

  • History professor Rana Hogarth’s research focuses on the history of both medicine and race, and the connections between.

    What drives us to blame the marginalized for epidemics?

    There’s a long history of scapegoating marginalized people in epidemics, and of seeing difference in the way those of different races respond to disease, says Rana Hogarth, a U. of I. professor who studies the history of both medicine and race, and the connections between.

  • Eunice E. Santos

    How can researchers predict social behavior during pandemics to enhance public health policies?

    Eunice E. Santos, the dean of the School of Information Sciences, studies how computational models can help explain social behaviors and the factors that influence decision-making during pandemics.