Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
American women who are planning to have children have been found by a new study to become pregnant at roughly the same time as their high school friends. Researchers only found the effect among women who were planning pregnancies, though–friends’ pregnancies did not impact the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies. More from Reuters:
“In our study we focus on high school friends because the later a friendship is formed, the more likely it is that the individual chooses the friends on common future family plans or common family orientations,” Nicoletta Balbo told Reuters Health in an email.
Balbo, a researcher at the Carlo F. Dondena Center for Research on Social Dynamics at Bocconi University in Italy, coauthored the study with Nicola Barban, a sociologist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
“We looked at dyads (pairs) of friends to see whether the childbearing of one of the friends in the dyad increases the probability for the other friend to have a child,” Balbo said.
The researchers analyzed data from a large U.S. study that has followed thousands of participants, starting when they were adolescents in the 1990s, and doing repeated interviews over the years.
Balbo and Barban focused on 1,170 women, of whom 820 became parents during the study period. About half of the pregnancies were planned and half unintended, according to the women’s own reports. Their average age at the time they had their first child was 27.
The researchers found that after one of the women in each friendship pair had a baby, the likelihood that her friend would also have her first baby went up for about two years, and then declined.
Image: Pregnant friends, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, January 16th, 2014
Babies as young as 9 months old may have a grasp of the social world that could be described as comprehension of the concept of “friendship,” a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General shows. More from LiveScience:
“Nine-month-old infants are paying attention to other people’s relationships,” said study co-author Amanda Woodward, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago. “Infants are able to watch two strangers interact in the movie and then make inferences about whether those two people are likely to be friends,” said Woodward, referring to a movie showed to the babies during the experiment….
The researchers had 64 nine-month-olds watch two videos of two actors eating a mystery food from two differently colored containers. Sometimes the actors smiled and said, “Ooh, I like it,” or made faces of disgust and said, “Eww, I don’t like that.” (The team chose to use food, because it plays a central role in many social gatherings with family and friends.)
The two actors either had similar food preferences or opposing ones.
Afterward, the tots watched a video of the two people meeting and either being friendly to one another or giving each other the cold shoulder.
Though infants can’t say what they’re thinking, they reveal their thoughts by what they pay attention to, Woodward told LiveScience. “When they see events that are inconsistent or unexpected, they tend to look at them longer,” she said.
The youngsters stared longer at videos of people with opposing views who were friendly to each other, suggesting the babies expected the two people who disagreed on food to be foes. Infants also stared longer at unfriendly people who still liked the same foods.
The findings suggest that even at a young age, babies expect people with similar likes and dislikes to be friends, and those who disagree to be unfriendly.
Babies may be wired to expect this behavior, Woodward said.
In their short lives, “babies probably didn’t learn this expectation from experience,” Woodward said. “It’s some expectation that they are in some way prepared to have.”
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Image: Two babies, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Middle- and high-school students who drink alcohol may actually be getting a social payoff for their behavior in the form of a greater number of friends, according to a new study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors. Reuters has more:
Previous studies have found friend groups can influence choices about alcohol, but haven’t looked at the possible social payoffs of drinking.
“There has not been much data to support that drinking among teenagers directly leads to higher popularity and more friendships,” said Peter Delany. He is the director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality in Rockville, Maryland.
Delany was not part of the study team, which was led by Mir M. Ali, also from SAMHSA.
“The fact remains that underage drinking is linked to a long list of adverse health and behavioral consequences, including the deaths of thousands of adolescents and young adults each year,” Delany told Reuters Health in an email.
Ali and colleagues analyzed data from a national study of 7th through 12th graders from 132 schools who were surveyed in 1994. The survey included a variety of questions on drinking and substance use, number of friends, friends of friends, home life and other factors.
Teens who reported occasional drinking and getting drunk tended to have higher “social connectedness” than their abstaining peers. That was especially true for white students.
Getting drunk seemed to be more important for popularity than just drinking in general. Kids who drank at all reported having an extra half a friend, on average, and those who got drunk reported one additional friend compared to non-drinkers.
The findings “provide new evidence on the motivation behind adolescent drinking,” the researchers wrote in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
The researchers added that healthy behaviors, like participating in sports, are also linked with better social connectedness.
Image: Teens drinking beer, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, August 25th, 2011
A moving story from The Boston Globe reports on a summer camp in western Massachusetts that has, since 2002, been a source of support and much-needed fun for kids whose parents died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Because the kids are aging out of “America’s Camp“–many original campers are now serving as counselors or counselors-in-training–this, the 10th anniversary of the attacks, will be the camp’s last summer.
From the Globe:
For campers, the 10th anniversary marks the end of an era.
“The friends you make here,’’ says Michelle Mathai, a senior at Colby College, “have an understanding of each other no one else has. And it’s the first time people treated us as normal kids.’’
Some campers note that they’ve known their friends at America’s Camp longer than they knew their lost parent.
Michelle was 11, Robert was 9, when their father, Joseph, died in the World Trade Center, where he was attending a business meeting. The following summer, America’s Camp opened. The idea was to give children who had lost a parent in the terrorist attacks a haven where they could escape the grief and curiosity that dogged them.
Seventy-eight children showed up that first summer. Later the camp welcomed a handful of children of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty during the past decade. This year there are 170 campers between ages 7 and 15 – and 105 former campers who are now counselors or counselors in training.
Michelle Mathai is in charge of 9-year-old through 11-year-old campers.
“It’s been funny meeting kids who are the same age now as I was when it happened,’’ she says. “They didn’t know their parent, but they’ve grown up with a sense of exactly what happened.’’
Each August, many of the children return for a week. They have laughed, cried, and formed close bonds. During the year, many keep up with one another and arrange get-togethers. Some say they consider camp a second home, their fellow campers and the counselors a second family.
(image via: http://www.americascamp.org/)
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