An innovative new study takes a network theory approach to targeted treatment in rural Africa, and finds that a simple algorithm may be more effective than current policies, as well as easier to deploy, when it comes to preventing disease spread – by finding those with “most connections to sick people”.
Baboons learn about food locations socially through monitoring the behaviour of those around them. While proximity to others is the key to acquiring information, research shows that accessing food depends on the complex hierarchies of a baboon troop, and those lower down the pecking order can end up queuing for leftovers.
An online experiment reveals that the overall level of cooperation in a group almost doubles when the previous actions of all its members are rendered transparent. When all social connections within the group are also made transparent, the most cooperative band together to form their own community – ostracizing the less cooperative.
Understanding the spread of infectious diseases in populations is the key to controlling them. If the UK was facing a flu pandemic, how could we measure where the greatest spreading risk comes from? This information could help inform decisions on whether to impose travel restrictions or close schools.
Social networks like Twitter cannot help prevent disasters, but can quickly correct misinformation resulting from false rumours preventing possible further loss of lives, a leading researcher will tell a public debate on 25th October at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.
Social psychologist and best-selling author Dr Kevin Dutton, Research Fellow at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, puts the recent riots under the microscope and looks at the way in which low self-esteem, a sense of isolation and an absence of positive role models lead to a volatile cocktail of emotions in young people.
As mobile phone cameras improve, emerging forms of social media are basing themselves in ‘iPhoneography’. While social media is often held up as an example of the increasingly vacuous and self-obsessed nature of society, research into these new networks shows they can encourage creativity, and even provide users with a therapeutic outlet.