Press coverage from previous years
SIRC in the News
Press coverage from 2010
- Classic Car — 14.12.2010.
If a House is not Your Home, Maybe Your Car Is?
In recent research carried out by Telegraph Motoring in conjunction with AXA Car Insurance, nearly half of surveyed Britons say their car is “very important” to them. The majority (65%) of Britons travel to get to work but, of course, most other car trips are for the purposes of socialising and personal errands. Regardless of why we are on the roadway, of the 5,000 people surveyed, 75% of those who drive prefer journeys when they are alone. According to Dr. Peter Marsh, of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, we prefer to drive alone so that we are in control; and we can choose to behave however we wish. Whether we are picking our nose or singing sad songs, if we are alone, we cannot be judged. We behave as if we were at home.
- Mail — 02.12.2010.
Get gossiping. Scientific evidence shows that gossiping among human beings is the equivalent to 'social grooming' - the common activity that bonds apes and monkeys. Evidence shows that this kind of behaviour releases endorphins - naturally occurring hormones that make us feel warm and happy.
The Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre SIRC) says that gossiping is a primitive need that gives us a natural high. Furthermore, gossiping is essential for our social, physical and psychological well-being. Anthropologist Kate Fox from the SIRC believes human beings have an innate need to bond which explains why two-thirds of all conversation is gossip.
- Telegraph — 29.11.2010.
What gives us road rage? Dr Peter Marsh — leading psychologist, noted motoring behavioural expert, senior lecturer, author and Alfa Romeo enthusiast — is getting riled. But only slightly. Stuck in the wrong lane and cut off by two rows of vehicles, he impatiently flicks the indicator and tries to shoehorn the white Ford Mondeo back into the maelstrom that is Hyde Park Corner. But the swirling traffic is having none of it. We sit there for half a minute, then a minute, generating a chorus of car horns and a forest of finger salutes. Finally we give up and slink around the corner into swanky Knightsbridge in search of a detour to our destination.
- Independent — 20.11.2010. Tehran Times — 27.11.2010.
Why are Asian women aspiring to Western ideals of beauty? Upholders of beauty exploit the inadequacies of a weak and needy post-modern society that must be told what to be. The exceptions above can't overturn the rules. Smart, successful, aspirational people are lean or must try to be.
The scale and penetration of such messaging in modern times is unprecedented. Academic Kate Fox of the Social Issues Research Centre warned way back in 1998: "Advances in technology has caused normal concerns about how we look to become obsessions... we have become accustomed to rigid and uniform standards of beauty...on TV billboards and magazines, we see 'beautiful people' all the time, more often than members of our own family, making exceptional good looks seem real, normal and attainable."
- Mail — 20.11.2010.
Why girls are flirty. "When you first meet new people their initial impression of you will be based 55 per cent on your appearance and body language and only 7 per cent on what you actually say," said Kate Fox, of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, which carried out the research. "Men find it particularly difficult to interpret the more subtle cues in women's body language and tend to mistake friendliness for sexual interest. "This is not because they are stupid or deluded but they tend to see the world in more sexual terms than women. By sending erratic and ambiguous signals in the early stages of an encounter, women manipulate men into showing their hand."
- Mail — 19.11.2010.
Why the HRT generation has a fun-filled life. The HRT generation of fifty-something women are enjoying a life of more fun and freedom than ever before, a survey has found. The Jubilee Report, a study into attitudes and lifestyles, says that contrary to previous thinking, women are also having better sex after the onset of the menopause ... The study was conducted by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. Co-director and social scientist Kate Fox said: "The research surprisingly reveals that all aspects of women's lives — health, work, sex, career, relationships, travel, energy, happiness — improve after the onset of the menopause."
- politics.co.uk — 16.11.2010.
Royal wedding analysis: Even the cynics will be cheered up. According to popular anthropologist Kate Fox, whose book Watching The English remains one of the best recent analyses of our national character, we can all be relied on to engage in a bit of 'mock-moaning' whenever the opportunity arises. "In all English moaning rituals," she writes, "there is a tacit understanding that nothing can or will be done about the problems we are moaning about... our ritual moaning is purely therapeutic, not strategic or purposeful: the moan is an end in itself." A royal wedding fits the bill perfectly.
- Telegraph — 12.11.2010.
How our cars became like home. "Driving alone is one of those rare opportunities not only for feeling in charge of one's own destiny but also for doing things that would, ordinarily, result in censure or even arrest on public transport," says psychologist Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre, Oxford. "People sing opera, break wind, smoke cigarettes and generally behave as if they are at home. Which, in a very real sense, they are."
- India Today — 12.11.2010.
Have you bitched enough today? The Social Issues Research Centre, Oxford, found that men actually spend more time mobile gossiping than women do! What men and women gossip about is different, however.
- Reader's Digest — 10.11.2010.
The new back fence. Cellphones are a "social lifeline", according to Kate Fox of the UK’s Social Issues Research Centre. The centre’s research shows that 75 percent of us gossip on our mobiles at least once a week, with about a third indulging every day. "Mobiles have allowed us to return to the more natural communication of pre-industrial society, when we lived in small communities and enjoyed frequent talk with a tight-knit group," says Fox. "Mobiles restore our sense of connection in an isolating world."
- Independent — 08.11.2010.
Spare us the sob story: The lost art of stoicism. A survey by the Social Issues Research Centre (in conjunction with Kleenex — who else?) found that fully 99 per cent of women and 77 per cent of men feel it has become more acceptable in the past 20 years for men to cry. This is, as far as I am concerned, a welcome rejection of the sort of stereotyping that damned men who cried, and sank Muskie's presidential run. The ability to hold in tears is no longer seen as the tell-tale attribute of a real man.
- Telegraph — 05.11.2010.
Why we still enjoy driving. "The results of the AXA study are, in one sense, surprising," says Dr Peter Marsh, a leading psychologist and specialist in the role of the car and driving behaviour, and co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre, Oxford. "Normally, people feel a need to apologise for owning a car, inventing spurious rationalisations that rarely bear any relation to the real motives. Similarly, many of us feel compelled to deny we get any pleasure from driving, usually claiming it is just a necessity that we would much rather avoid. So the fact that 90 per cent of respondents were happy to own up to what we really know to be the case anyway is refreshing."
- LA Times — 01.11.2010.
What's it like to struggle with eating disorders? Body Image 101: Like it or not, studies show attractive people have an edge in everything from being hired to being set free (yes, they are less likely to be found guilty at trials), according to a report from the Social Issues Research Centre in Britain. But aspiring to an unrealistic standard of beauty can lead to destructive eating disorders, which is what happened to actress Portia de Rossi.
- Telegraph — 22.10.2010.
Britain's obsession with the weather: 60 per cent admit it's a 'social prop' A study has found that for more than half of us, conversation turns to our climate at least once every six hours. A quarter of us deem the topic of such interest that we use it as an icebreaker ... Social anthropologist Kate Fox, who is director of the Social Issues Research Centre think tank, said: "Britons need weather-talk to help us overcome our social inhibitions and handicaps. The variability of the British weather makes it an ideal medium for our social messages. We certainly talk about it a lot but this is not because it is an intrinsically interesting topic. Over half of the people we spoke to admitted that they used weather-talk to facilitate social interaction."
- Atlantic City Weekly — 22.09.2010.
Caught up in Gossip. According to the Social Issues Research Center (SIRC), people gossip because "it helps us to establish, develop and maintain relationships; to bond with other members of our social circle; to clarify our social position and status; to assess and manage reputation; to learn social skills; to learn and reinforce shared values; to resolve conflicts; to build support networks; and to win friends and influence people."
- Mail & Guardian — 20.08.2010.
Six ways to lower your insurance premiums. A 23-year-old male behind the wheel of a car has 535 times more chance of dying in a road accident than his female counterpart. This startling statistic is provided by the Social Issues Research Centre in the United Kingdom.
- San Francisco Examiner — 06.07.2010.
The art of Tantric flirting. "Research has also shown that men have a tendency to mistake friendly behavior for sexual flirting. This is not because they are stupid or deluded, but because they tend to see the world in more sexual terms than women. There is also evidence to suggest that women are naturally more socially skilled than men, better at interpreting people's behavior and responding appropriately. Indeed, scientists have recently claimed that women have a special 'diplomacy gene' which men lack." The Social Issues Research Center goes on to add that humor is one of the most effective ways to flirt. It breaks up tension and any awkwardness that may be there and often brings a smile to the one you are interested in connecting with.
- NY Times — 29.07.2010.
The Sweet Smell of Marketing Success. The Smell Report, published by the Social Issues Research Centre in Britain, offers fascinating insights into how our noses lead us around, dictating mood, choices and desires. Scientists tell us that the same area of the brain that processes scent also processes emotions and decisions.
- Le Parisien — 16.06.2010.
Pourquoi les hommes sont-ils accros au foot? Le Social Issues Research Center, le plus grand institut de recherche sociologique britannique, a publié une étude menée auprès de 20.000 hommes issus de douze pays européens, qui n'a rien d'excitante : 60% d'entre eux préfèrent en effet regarder un bon match plutôt que d'avoir des relations sexuelles. Tous justifient cette inclination par le fait qu'une rencontre leur procure une montée d'adrénaline incomparable et une excitation intense pendant 90 minutes.
- Sydney Morning Herald — 29.06.2010.
Shedding fears for tears. 90 — Percentage of women who think it is has become more socially acceptable for men to cry during the past two decades, according to a survey by the Social Issues Research Centre. 77 — Percentage of men who think the same.
- New Zealand Herald — 11.06.2010.
Wine: Tackling our drinking problem. It's not the drink itself, it's our attitude towards drinking. "Alcohol-related problems are associated with specific cultural factors, relating to beliefs, attitudes, norms and expectancies about drinking," says a report on the Social and Cultural Aspects of Drinking, from Britain's Social Issues Research Centre.
- Sydney Morning Herald — 07.06.2010.
It's my show and I'll cry if I want to. The stiff-upper-lip genre of male stoicism is changing. A survey by the Social Issues Research Centre found 90 per cent of women and 77 per cent of men agreed it was socially acceptable for men to cry and the taboo on male tears was outdated and unhealthy.
- Mail — 24.04.2010.
Adventures in the skill trade. Timebanking is now operating in 170 neighbourhoods in the UK (and thousands more in Europe and the US), thanks to funding by local authorities and NHS Primary Care Trusts (because swapping is good for your wellbeing) ... If you haven’t tried it yet, you soon will as it’s here to stay, predicts Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. "The psychological impact of the recession has not only affected our current attitudes toward spending and saving," says Dr Marsh, "It has generated what we predict will be an enduring influence on our future lives. The majority across all age groups feel that their new-found frugality will stay with them after the economy has recovered."
- NY Times — 17.03.2010.
Why You’d Rather Ride With a Woman Than a Man. Last post, I passed on some data showing that women are somewhat more likely than men to be involved in car accidents on a per mile driven basis. But men are far more likely (by between 50 and 100 percent) to be in crashes involving loss of life. Why are men’s crashes so much more tragic? An interesting summary of the research from the Social Issues Research Centre.
- European Journal of Social Sciences — 10.03.2010.
Women of the Sandwich Generation in Malaysia. A report from the Social Issues Research Centre United Kingdom in 2009 stated that young people nowadays get married much later than was the case in the middle of the twentieth century. More people have delayed marriage until their late twenties or early thirties, and consequently both delayed having children and are having fewer children. At the same time, the pattern of population ageing has been changing as a result of increasing longevity and declining fertility.
- Women's Health Magazine — 27.01.2010.
Women And Alcohol: Drinking Too Much. Dangling an alcoholic beverage in your hand is the liquid equivalent of wearing a bikini — it makes it perfectly clear that you are in relaxation mode. A study by the Social Issues Research Centre in the United Kingdom found that the association of alcohol with festivity exists in nearly every culture around the world. As you may have noticed at various international airports, the universal symbol for kicking back is the martini glass.