SIRC in the News 2007
Mail on Sunday — 23.12.2007
Serial sniffers are No 1 pest. It is a familiar sound of winter, heard across the country as the cold and flu season takes hold. Now a survey has revealed sniffing is the noise Scots hate most at this time of year. More than half of people (59 per cent) quizzed by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) said continual sniffing was the most irritating winter habit. One in five said they would actually move away from someone sneezing. Very few people admitted to serial sniffing in public but one in four confessed to enjoying a big sneeze. Kate Fox, of SIRC, said: Serial sniffers are the most annoying but a quarter of us enjoy nothing better than letting it all out.
Aberdeen Press and Journal — 18.12.2007
Take every new health or food scare with a good dollop of scepticism, says GP. If You are not already concerned about your height, short legs, irregular churchgoing, small wage packet and the sheer bad luck of being born in early summer, there's sure to be another health or food scare on the horizon soon ... According to Dr Peter Marsh, of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, we have far less to worry about than our ancestors did. He said: "Life is the safest it has ever been in the entire history of evolution. There is less disease, we are better fed and better protected, our environment is safer. "It's just a shame we feel compelled to invent fanciful fears to compensate for lack of real danger".
Independent (SA) — 17.11.2007
Why do women drive with both their hands? Cruising along with one hand on the wheel, elbow dangling over the window, he may look detached. But he isn't. Psychologists say that the average male driver only relaxes like this because he considers his car to be a part of himself ... Dr Peter Marsh said: "Men hate talking about relationships. But the relationship they have with their car is different because they identify with their cars. This is often demonstrated by genuine feelings of annoyance at the threat, or potential threat, of someone scratching or scraping the car. Affectionate patting of the steering wheel, car roof or dashboard, or glancing back as if to say goodbye, are also signs."
Marie Claire — December 2007
Nine out of Ten People Lie to Appear More Green. Being green has become the new competitive sport amongst neighbours. Whereas once the size of your car and how neat the garden is were the preferred means of getting one up on the locals, vying to be the most ethical in the village is now the conversation of choice ... Speaking to The Times, Dr Peter Marsh of the Social Research Coucil commented: 'People have to demonstrate to others that they are in one way or another good people. It now expresses itself in environmental concerns…Green is the flavour of the new millennium.'
Sydney Sun Herald — 11.11.2007
Boys do cry. It used to be that a man could only cry if his footy team lost or his dog died. Helen Hawkes gets an invite to a men's group to meet some blokes who are learning to open up about their feelings ... In 2004, a survey by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, found 30 per cent of all British males had cried in the last month and 77 per cent of men considered crying in public increasingly acceptable.
The Daily Reckoning — 30.10.2007
Some research from the Social Issues Research Centre called The Coming of Wage casts some revealing light on how higher education and exorbitant property prices is making the transition into independent adult life that much more difficult for the 18-25s. It says four times more people now go on to university than 30 years ago and come out with an average £12,000 in debt. Added to that, the cost of raising a deposit for a home has gone up 450% in the past ten years. This leaves many despairing they will never be able to afford their own home and, in turn forces them to lean more heavily on their parents for financial support.
Newcastle Journal — 30.10.2007
Parents Help Out. Just under half of parents say their children will not be able to buy a property without their financial backing, according to The Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. And with deposits rising more than 450% in 10 years, getting a foot on the ladder is almost impossible, leaving 40% of teenagers despairing that they'll not be able to afford a home. The number of first-time buyers in the UK dropped 20% in the past year and the average age rose to 34.
Irish Independent — 26.10.2007
UK parents to feel pinch as adult offspring still need financial aid. Over half of parents believe that their children will not be able to support themselves when they reach adulthood and 95pc still expect to be funding their children when they leave home ... Two thirds of parents say their child will not be able to go to university without their support, according to the first annual Coming of Wage Report, commissioned by the Children's Mutual from the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford. Just under half say their children won't be able to buy a property without their financial backing. But, many parents are finding it difficult to put away the necessary funds.
Marie Claire — 25.10.2007
Thirtysomethings putting parents at financial risk. The increase in university tuition fees, living costs and rocketing house prices means many young adults are still dependent on their parents. A huge 95% of parents think they will be supporting their children well into adulthood, according to a report by saving specialists the Children's Mutual. The dependence from offspring means many parents are digging into their pension, savings and in some cases even remortgaging to help their children financially. In a study by the Social Issues Research Centre of 1,000 parents questioned for the Coming of Wage report, just 5% said they expected to stop funding their children when they left home.
Daily Mail — 25.10.2007
Thirtysomethings who depend on the Bank of Mum and Dad. Parents are putting their own financial security on the line to support their grown-up children, researchers say. Increases in university tuition fees and living costs, coupled with soaring house prices, mean many young adults are increasingly reliant on the "Bank of Mum and Dad" ... The bleak picture of a generation of young adults still dependent on their parents emerged in a study by the Social Issues Research Centre. Of 1,000 parents questioned for the Coming of Wage report, just five per cent said they expected to stop funding their children when they left home.
Aftenposten — 21.10.2007
Slik blir ditt nettliv i 2020. Menneskers forhold til Internett vil endres radikalt de kommende årene. I artikkelen "Life online: The Web in 2020" lister forskere fra The Social Issues Research Centre i Oxford i England opp hvordan Internett og mennesker i "Generasjon C" vil gå hånd i hånd om bare 18 år. Dette er livet på nett i 2020 hvis vi skal tro britene: Den digitale verdenen vil ikke lengre være separert som et "alternativ". Forholdet mellom den virtuelle verdenen og den "virkelige" verden vil hviskes ut. Teknologien gjør oss til "alltid-brukere" av nettet og endrer måten vi tenker, handler og føler.
Evening Standard — 18.10.2007
Tipping the scales on obesity. There is increasingly good reason to suggest obesity is an "iatrogenic" disorder a disease caused by the treatment. Moralising about what children should eat creates anxieties which significantly affect their relationships with food. Increasingly, children as young as eight are dieting to accord with the thin equals beautiful equals healthy equation that has been drummed into them. The inevitable mid— to long-term impact of dieting is weight gain rather than weight loss. And we wonder why obesity is rising? While the manufacturers of foods high in fat or sugar targeted at children are easy targets, the "health professionals" who have fuelled these fears about food must also accept their share of the blame. Dr Peter Marsh, co-director, The Social Issues Research Centre.
Evening Standard — 10.10.2007
We're addicted to mobiles. Researchers at the London School of Economics found one in eight of us is addicted to their mobile, rising to one in four among 16- to 24-year-olds. Sixty per cent of people also admitted they would check up on their partner's phone, with 66 per cent of women prepared to do so, compared with 53 per cent of men. James Harkin of the Social Issues Research Centre, which conducted the study for Carphone Warehouse, said: "The mobile has now become a kind of pacifier for adults. One in six Britons admitted that if a whole day went by without their phone ringing or receiving a text, they'd end up feeling unwanted."
Retail Week — 28.09.2007
The Shopping Technology of Tomorrow. By 2020, mobile web tools such as the Blackberry will be like pen and paper, says Oxford University's Social Issues Research Centre, which published a study two weeks ago entitled Life online: the web in 2020. It also forecasts that "v-commerce will replace e-commerce". In other words, 3D virtual equivalents of high street stores, such as the online virtual reality platform Second Life, will become the norm. New Look strategy director Sean Wills agrees. "People will want more social interaction, but for it to be seamless. People will want to use it to chat to friends as if they were walking down the street on a shopping trip," he forecasts.
Toronto Sun — 23.09.2007
Gender defender. One would hope that by now we'd realize that men and women are simply equal but different, and get on with more important things in life, but I've had more than one occasion recently when I've been acutely aware that the battle of the sexes may not be as dead as Betty Friedan ... According to the U.K.'s Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, quot;In all studies and analyses, without exception, men have been shown to have a higher rate of crashes than women.quot; While some of these statistics owe to the fact that more men drive (and spend more time doing it) than women, the SIRC's study states, quot;If such factors were at work, we would expect a sharp difference between the level of male driver injuries and fatalities and those resulting from being a pedestrian, passenger, cyclist, etc. Such a difference is not evident, and the risk-proneness of men while driving is directly reflective of their risk in a wide range of other contexts.quot;
Channel 4 News — 14.09.2007
Pensioners enjoying the high life. Many pensioners are living the high life, enjoying incomes that are higher than average earnings, a report shows. Nearly a quarter of retired people have more than £20,000 a year coming in, while 21% of pensioners say they have the same spending habits now as when they were working. One in six retirees even admit they spend more money now they are retired than they did previously, according to research commissioned by insurer Friends Provident. The report, which was carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre, said today's retirees are in a unique position compared with previous generations, having lived through a period of economic prosperity and strong property price gains.
Star — 13.09.2007
Scouse Proud! Liverpudlians 'Most Loyal' Scousers are the proudest people in Britain. They are more loyal to their home city than anyone else and have a greater sense of "belonging", claims a new study. Experts found Liverpool's residents have a deep-rooted love of where they live, their family and friends — and, of course, their local football teams. Elsewhere residents are more likely to feel a tie to an area based on how close it is to work or the economic status of being in a certain postcode. But Liverpudlians have a kind of "brand loyalty" to the city, says the study by the Social Issues Research Centre, commissioned by the AA.
Bridgwater Mercury — 07.09.2007
Vans United celebrates a decade of 'White van man' The Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) proved there was more to the van-driver than meets the eye with a large percentage of them admitting to a liking of classical music, health food and scuba diving. Recent reports have also found that the White Van Man is very passionate about his or her local community, opting to shop in local stores and listen to local radio stations and often plays for a local sports team (often football) - if they don't play, they will often be in support.
Independent — 26.08.2007
Size matters: The Great British weight debate.In Britain, being thin is increasingly seen as a sign of wealth and status, yet more of us are overweight than ever. Are we in danger of becoming a society segregated according to size? ... Peter Marsh, the co-director of the Oxford based Social Issues Research Centre has just completed a report on "Belonging" in 21st century Britain; he agrees that fat and thin is enough to drive the population into distinct groups. "We consider ourselves individuals, but it is our membership of particular groups that is most important in constructing a sense of identity" he says. "Without doubt, there is escalating polarization between fat and thin and we suspect that will continue for some time. Couple that with a general sense in Britain that thin equals beautiful and healthy, and what you have is a growing sense that thin is in and fat is very much out. This means that members of the thin group grow in power, with better access to jobs and a voice that is more likely to be heard, while fat people feel like an unpopular minority and are without doubt stigmatized. They feel increasingly inadequate, insecure and neurotic, pinning all their hopes on fad diets. Which is a depressing thought given that in the long term, research has proven that those who spend their lives on diets actually end up larger than those who don't diet."
Times — 23.08.2007
Eco-slackers feel the pressure to keep up with Green-Joneses. Flaunting your green credentials has taken over from buying a bigger car or installing the latest electronic gadget as the preferred means of getting one over on the neighbours ... Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research [Centre], said that the issue of being greener than the Joneses cropped up frequently during lifestyle studies. "You see it in cars. Yesterday you talked about brake horsepower, now people talk about carbon emissions from their car — even though it's a 4x4 tractor," he said ... "People have to demonstrate to others that they are in one way or another good people. It now expresses itself in environmental concerns. Before, it might have involved peace campaigning or women's rights. Green is the flavour of the new millennium. That's not to say that people aren't genuine; they do believe in what they say."
Stars and Stripes — 08.08.2007
Expand your UK IQ: Hooliganism. This behavior, known as hooliganism, is believed to have originated in England as a result of televised matches in the 1960s that showed fans invading football pitches and causing riots, according to the Social Issues Research Center's Web site. Hooliganism was even seen as a way for the working classes to reclaim the sport, with fans from other European countries following similar patterns of behavior in the 1970s, the Web site said.
Christian Science Monitor — 31.07.2007
What's the buzz? A report by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, England, contained some interesting facts about gossip. It noted one recent study that found gossip accounts for 55 percent of men's conversations and 67 percent of women's. Researchers in a similar study premised that these percentages weren't as interesting as the different ways gossip was being used. For instance, men, it was suggested, use gossip for networking to further their careers, while women often use gossip to set moral boundaries and build relationships.
Mid Day Mumbai — 30.07.2007
Even ‘talking’ about a sport can get you ahead at work. Sport-related conversations between co-workers and clients can boost morale and improve mood, motivation and productivity at the workplace, reveals a study, commissioned by recruitment and talent management consultancy, Hudson, and conducted by UK-based The Social Issues Research Centre.
Bournemouth Echo — 29.07.2007
WOW! I can't wait to tell the others ... Social anthropologists have discovered that break time gossip is actually a vital instinct borrowed from our Stone Age sisters and forms the crucial glue that bonds women at work helping them go further in their careers ... According to the report, written by anthropologist Kate Fox of the Social Issues Research Centre: "The reason women can't keep a secret and why they gossip so much is because of a cavewoman instinct to bond with other women. "In an evolutionary sense women have always needed sisterhood to survive - originally because it meant survival against the weather, predators and starvation."
Scotsman — 27.07.2007
Incredible lightness of being at one with your vehicle. I ALWAYS thought that the secret life of cars revolved around what went on in them in various laybys in the hours of darkness, or in back-street garages where they were cut in half and welded on to matching halves of other cars before being sold on to gullible punters. According to some serious research by BMW, however, the roles cars play in our lives go far beyond anything so simple as providing transport or a convenient place for a quiet fumble. Unlike the vast majority of motoring surveys in which the customer ( usually an insurance broker) has someone ask a few hundred drivers fairly innocuous questions with the sole intention of getting the client's name in the headlines, BMW actually had targeted research carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre at Oxford. The centre's researchers talked at length with a lot of motorists and some of their findings appear to explode some of the oldest myths in motoring.
Independent — 26.07.2007
Diary. You may not be aware of it, but as you chat this morning about last night's TV, you are engaging in a prehistoric pastime while furthering your career prospects. That's according to research carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre, which has discovered that gossiping is a Stone Age art. Apparently, women spend over an hour a day chewing the fat, equivalent to two years of their working lives. This clearly isn't just a load of hot air, as around half of 18- to 25-year-old females think that gossiping is good team-bonding, ensuring success in a hostile professional world.
Times — 25.07.2007
The secret life of cars — and their owners. The people who make what they modestly call "the ultimate driving machine" say that they wanted to explore "how it feels to drive in contemporary Britain". Or, as BMW's "driver interfaces psychologist" puts it, with a rhetorical flourish worthy of his exalted rank: "We're constantly asking the question: what kind of psychological space is a car?" What indeed? To answer that, BMW asked the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre to conduct a big survey into driving attitudes.
Independent — 24.07.2007
Technology and power? No; it's the humble cup-holder we fall in love with. A team from the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) in Oxford spent months sitting in cars with drivers, analysing their routines and driving styles and documenting journeys and the incidents that happened ... Chris Bangle, BMW's group design director, was impressed by the findings. He said: "We want our cars to speak to people on an emotional level. What makes the car alive is for it to be responsive, animate. There has to be more of a message than, 'I'm sexy, I'm powerful.' People buy cars they are passionate about, they don't buy cars that they just use. People form a relationship with our cars; they discover them slowly. We want to achieve a long-lasting bond."
What Car — 20.07.2007
How cars can blow your mind. Men drive with one hand on the wheel, drivers are more likely to sing on the way to work rather than on the way home, and 'Green-upmanship' is an ever-increasing social phenomenon among car owners. These are just some of the findings of a new survey into human interaction with cars. The study was commissioned by BMW and carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) in Oxford, and was designed to highlight human behaviour in cars and how that might affect the future of car ownership and motoring.
Economist — 19.07.2007
Housing supply: The English paradox. Most people in England want to own their own homes (preferably detached ones with gardens) and think that more of them ought to be built — so long as they are far away. A survey by YouGov, a pollster, last year found that 65% of people think more homes are needed, but 43% think their council should discourage or block housing in their area. The antipathy to new development appears stronger in Britain than in North America. Saint Consulting, an American outfit specialising in land use, found that almost a third of Britons oppose the development of new homes in their communities, compared with 11% of Canadians and just 6% of Americans. Kate Fox, a social anthropologist and author of "Watching the English", thinks the paradox reflects one of the defining characteristics of Englishness: a "phobia about crowding and fixation with privacy" that arises when lots of people are crammed together in a small island.
Daily Record — 19.07.2007
We Are Defined By Work, Football & Cash. Football, money and work have replaced class, religion and regional loyalties in giving people a sense of belonging. With increasing numbers leaving areas where generations of family have lived because of work, modern Britons are finding new ways to reach out to others. The study of 2200 adults by the Social Issues Research Centre for the AA found most felt they had more in common with people they work with than members of their extended family. Men have a greater bond with those who support the same football team than those with the same political view.
Irish Times — 19.07.2007
An Irishman's Diary. While women are inundated with strictures on "what not to wear" by harridans on television purporting to be "stylists", there is precious little advice on the subject for men. Writer Kate Fox, analysing dress codes in Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, believes that "male casual dress" is a "class indicator" and that there is "an inverse correlation between amounts of visible flesh and position on the social scale". She claims that "among older males, the higher classes tend to prefer shirts to T-shirts, and would certainly never go out in just vest or singlet, however hot the weather - these are strictly working-class garments", while "bare chests, anywhere other than a beach or swimming pool, are lower working-class". Furthermore, she writes: "On a warm day, lower-class men will roll their shirt-sleeves up to above the elbow, while the higher ranks will roll them to just below". And on the tricky subject of showing a bit of leg? Toffs wear shorts only when "playing sports, hill-walking or perhaps gardening at home", she says, and "only working-class males exhibit their legs in public in their home town".
BBC — 12.07.2007
How to moan without driving everyone crazy. Love it or loathe it, moaning is central to our culture. The Australians even call us 'whingeing poms'. Now, a pub landlady in Lancashire has banned people from complaining during the week. Instead, she offers a weekly moaning amnesty on Sunday afternoons. It's been dubbed the 'unhappy hour', but does it work? Social anthropologist, Kate Fox and Nigel Warburton, senior lecturer in philosophy at the Open University join Jenni to ask whether we should all be trying to cut down on our moaning?
Daily Mail — 12.07.2007
Why women drive with two hands and men with only one. Cruising along with one hand on the wheel, he may look detached. But he isn't. Psychologists say that the average male driver only relaxes like this because he considers his car as a part of himself...Co-author Dr Peter Marsh said: "Men hate talking about relationships. But the relationship they have with their car is different - because they identify with their cars. This is often demonstrated by genuine feelings of annoyance at the threat, or potential threat, of someone scratching or scraping the car. Affectionate patting of the steering wheel, car roof or dashboard, or glancing back as if to say goodbye, are also signs."
Further coverage in the Daily Telegraph
Seattle Times — 09.07.2007
Haven't you heard? Guys gossip too. Men, someone needs to tell you this, so it might as well be me. You can deny it. You can call it "shop talk," "locker-room banter," "keeping in touch" or "networking." We heard last week about a study confirming that you talk as much as women, but here's a little known fact: You gossip just as much as women do, too. This juicy tidbit comes courtesy of the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), a nonprofit think tank in England, which recently interviewed 1,000 cellphone users about how they use their phones for gossip and how gossip affects their lives. Many male participants initially denied that they gossip, according to the study, while nearly all of the females readily admitted to it. But come closer and listen to this: The study found that 33 percent of men indulge in gossip every day or almost every day, compared with 26 percent of women.
Sunday Times — 07.07.2007
Me and my love machine. What does your car say about you? Dr Peter Marsh, a psychologist from the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), says in the report out next week: "Driving can represent an everyday escape in the sense that the car absolves the driver of any other responsibility to be anything more than a driver for the duration of the drive." Half of those questioned valued the car as a refuge so much that they spoke of relishing the isolation of the daily commute.
The Age — 04.07.2007
The beauty myth; a guide for young consumers... Fascination with our self-image is nothing new. It's intrinsic to human nature writes Kate Fox, author of Mirror Mirror. "Every period of history has had its own standards of what is and is not beautiful. In the 19th century being beautiful meant wearing a corset - causing breathing and digestive problems."
Guardian — 25.06.2007
Spin cannot hide troubles facing Royal fixture. Such adverse conditions might ruin anyone's day, so Ascot can only be grateful for what anthropologist Kate Fox has described as the "indomitable cheerfulness, sociability and good manners" adopted by most people when they go to the races. That must account for the fact that the mood remained celebratory in all areas, all afternoon on Saturday, while thousands stayed behind after racing for the traditional singalong around the bandstand. The racecard promised that this would raise the grandstand roof. If only it could have raised the steppings as well.
sp!ked — 21.06.2007
Investigating the infra-ordinary. ... if you really want to understand the English, you have to go back a few years to Kate Fox's 2004 book Watching the English. Fox, an anthropologist and co-director of the rather brilliant Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, sets out to uncover the 'hidden rules of English behaviour' — or, more ambitiously, to 'sequence the English cultural genome', by identifying the '"cultural codes"' that make us who we are'. Watching the English is not an academic book — Fox explains that it is written for 'the intelligent layman' — but it is the kind of thing that policymakers would likely avoid, being made up of over 400 densely-packed pages based on a solid, social scientific method and making extremely uncomfortable reading for practitioners of the politics of behaviour.
Columbus Dispatch — 28.05.2007
Psst: Men gossip, too, studies say. Men, you can deny that you engage in what you call shop talk, networking or locker-room banter. But the truth is, you gossip just as much as women do. That juicy tidbit is offered by the Social Issues Research Centre, a nonprofit think tank in England that recently interviewed 1,000 people about how they use their cell phones for gossip and how gossip affects their lives. Many male participants initially denied that they gossip, according to the study, while almost all of the women admitted doing so. The study found, however, that 33 percent of men indulge in gossip every day or almost every day — compared with 26 percent of women.
Toronto Star — 27.05.2007.
Science behind the thrill of driving. "The precise nature of the thrill of driving is difficult to define. Few peole can experience in words the mixture of sensations they experience, but for some the effect is so psychologically intense that no other experience can match it. To understand what lies at the root of this sensation requires first of all an appreciation of the physiological effects of driving - what happens to our bodies, particularly when we are moving at high speeds in a car. "As a human body accelerates, certain things certain things happen to it. Nerves in muscles all over the body react instantly. Signals are sent through the spinal cord which in turn increase muscle tone - particularly in areas such as the neck which are most affected by the acceleration forces. The result of this is a vastly increased state of arousal throughout the body which, when detected by the central nervous system, is translated into a number of emotional experiences. "For some people, the physiological effects are experienced as pure fear. For others; however, this basic emotional state is modified to give a sharply tingling experience which is perceived as intensely pleasurable. "The fear, and the state of alertness, are still there - but they have been mastered. Acceleration is under one's control, and the result is a flush of bodily sensation that some people liken to a sexual orgasm."
- Driving Passion, the psychology of the car, by Peter Marsh and Peter Collett, Faber & Faber, 1986
Globe and Mail (Canada) — 24.05.2007.
Men more likely to take risks, seek thrills, new study shows. The Social Issues Research Centre recently completed an analysis of "the social and psychological differences between men and women that are relevant to their driving behaviour."...The authors note that "our 21st century skulls contain essentially 'stone-age' brains," and goes on to say: "Stone-age man did not drive. But the legacy of his hunting, aggressive and risk-taking — past qualities that enabled him to survive and mate, thereby passing on his genes to future generations — are still evident in the way in which he typically drives his car."
Chicago Sun Times — 12.05.2007.
Look who's talking. Men, someone needs to tell you this, so it might as well be me. You can deny it. You can call it shop talk, locker room banter or networking. But the truth is, you gossip just as much as women do. This juicy tidbit comes courtesy of the Social Issues Research Centre, a nonprofit think tank in England, which recently interviewed 1,000 cell phone users about how they use their phones for gossip and how gossip affects their lives. Many of the men initially denied they gossip, according to the study, while nearly all of the females readily admitted to it. But come closer and hear this: The study found that 33 percent of men indulge in gossip every day or almost every day, compared with 26 percent of women.
Financial Adviser (FT) — 10.05.2007.
Gov't pension provision will not be enough for most. More than two-thirds of pensioners said that they would need more than government benefits in order to live comfortably, according to the Freetirement Generation. The new report commissioned by Friends Provident showed that just 4 per cent of people in the UK feel they could live comfortably on the amount offered by the basic state pension. Seven in 10 people — both those retired and still working — estimate they would need AGBP600 or more a month to live comfortably. The report was undertaken by social trend researchers the Social Issues Research Centre.
IT Week — 08.05.2007
Web stores of the future will be virtual. E-commerce will be replaced by a 3D virtual shopping experience in the future, with advertising personalised to individuals' handsets and computers, according to a new report from managed hosting provider Rackspace and the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC). The report, Life online: The Web in 2020, presents an insight into how consumers will shop in the future, and it's a picture that could present online retailers with new challenges ...
Scotsman — 08.05.2007
Focus on your assets and forget the rest. The ability to love what we see in the mirror doesn't always come with age. We all know that the current media obsession with size zero can be a weapon of mass destruction to the mindsets of young women, but few of us realise the pressure to look good extends to those in and beyond middle-age ... According to the Social Issues Research Centre, a think tank, constant exposure to images of idealised female beauty in the media makes anything short of perfection (young, slim and red-carpet ready) seem ugly by comparison. Perhaps this is why women are also more likely to have a distorted image of their body, tending to over-estimate their size.
Financial Mail (SA) — 04.05.2007
At the gates of fear. It makes sense, with SA's violent crime rate, that anyone who can afford it runs for cover behind the iron gates and uniformed guards of a security estate. But gated developments are going up in some of the safest places in the world — and are more about fear than crime ... Last month, a report for the British government named security as the main reason for living in a gated community, even where there is little crime. A previous report, compiled by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, says: "We live in the age of fear. Less than 2% of Britons say they lead worry-free lives." People are anxious about crime, personal safety, finances and getting old, says the Social Issues Research Centre. They also worry about such things as world debt, toxic food, global warming and that their children may die before them because they're too fat. "The result of all this is that we lose proper focus on risk," adds the report. "While we may lie in bed at night fretting, appropriately, about the state of our credit card bill, we get diverted into worrying about things that are very unlikely to happen, and about which we can do little. It is such fanciful risks that lead to changes in our behaviour."
Guardian — 03.05.2007
Bricked in. It is the British dream to own the roof over one's head. But with the average home now costing £180,000 and mortgage rates set to rise yet again, that dream is bleeding millions dry..."The home is our identity," says Kate Fox, author of the anthropological book Watching the English. "We define ourselves by our homes."...perhaps it is time to start asking questions about our expectations, and the expectations we have inherited, such as the feeling of entitlement we have about owning property - "where does that come from?" asks Fox. "Why do we feel it's our God-given right?" And why does it have to be a house rather than a flat?" In 1974 Jonathan Raban wrote, in Soft City, that "London is unique among capital cities in that its middle class regard it as a right to live in a whole house and not in an apartment." That has not substantially changed since. "That's the English for you," says Fox. "Everyone with their little version of a country estate."
Scotsman — 03.05.2007
State pension 'not enough'. Mopre than two-thirds of pensioners believe they would be unable to live comfortably on state pension handouts alone. A report commissioned by Friends Provident and published yesterday revealed that 68 per cent of UK retirees said they needed more than the government provides to ensure a decent life. Research undertaken by the Social Issues Research Centre revealed almost 70 per cent of people estimated that they would need £600 or more a month to fund an easy retirement.
Guardian — 02.05.2007
State pension labelled 'insufficient'. A report commissioned by Friends Provident revealed that 68% of UK retirees said they needed more than that which the government currently provides to ensure a decent life. Research carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre revealed that just 4% of people feel they could live in comfort on the amount offered by the basic state pension ... The report also found that although seven in 10 current retirees have adequate funds to support themselves, those still in employment are heading towards a bleaker retirement.
The Sun — 21.04.2007.
Feeling free to enjoy old age. The report shows almost a quarter of retirees feel they now have sufficient financial freedom to choose the kind of work they want to do. Rather than being part of the "rat race", one in five work for the social interaction it affords. Dr Peter Marsh, author of the report, said: "For some, retirement is no longer a question of work or not work, but a chance to choose how to structure work later in life. "Without the financial pressures of supporting a family or the competitive stress of forging a career, employment takes on a different meaning. This group of people have actually achieved the work/life balance the younger generation aspire to."
Sunday Times — 22.04.2007.
You're not going out like that! It just goes to show that a spring night at Upton Park can be as fascinating as anything that Geldof might uncover in the rainforests of Sumatra. And it's not just football: our country is rich in distinct tribes. From the heavily made-up Goths to the Pringle sweaters of Mondeo Man, they all have their own distinguishing dress codes and behaviour. An anthropologist called Kate Fox investigated these tribes four years ago and reported her findings in a book called Watching the English. She says that when it comes to youth culture, the British are more inventive than anybody else in the world. "We have always had sub-cultures, and they have always distinguished themselves from the mainstream and from each other by their dress codes," she wrote. And, thanks to global-isation, we are getting more influences than ever before. "In the past, young English people looking for a sense of identity and a means of annoying their parents had a choice of just one or two — at the most three — counter-culture youth tribes. Now there are at least half a dozen, each with its own subgroups and splinter groups."
Guardian — 12.04.2007
Love thy neighbour? New research reveals that complaining about the folks next door has reached epidemic proportions ... Why have we grown so unneighbourly? The Daily Mail, not surprisingly, blames immigration (this is nonsense; one might more sensibly blame the Daily Mail) ... Of course, you could argue that the only thing an increased number of complaints proves is our increasing willingness to complain - or perhaps our increasing unwillingness to take the matter up with next door. As Dr Peter Marsh, a social psychologist and co-founder of the Social Issues Research Centre, puts it: "The problem is with how you measure these things. It has become a lot easier to make formal complaints now because people have a better understanding of the channels, which would explain why instances have increased."
Aberdeen Press and Journal — 12.04.2007
Fears aroused as football violence rears its ugly head again in Britain. There have been just two periods in recent British history that have been relatively free of football-related violence, according to the independent Social Issues Research Centre. They were the inter-war years, and the decade following World War II. Football hooliganism originated in England in the early 60s, it says, and has been linked with the televising of matches and with the reclaiming of the game by the working classes at the time.
Professional Adviser — 11.04.2007
Young people 'will struggle' to match today's retirees. Research conducted by the Social Issues Research Centre (SRIC) for Friends Provident found while people aged between 52 and 60 had achieved a perfect work/life balance people in their 20s, 30s and 40s would struggle to match them.
Cambridge Evening News — 10.04.2007
Over 50s living better than their children. The over 50s are living a dream life that is the envy of the younger generation, and may never to attained by them. So say findings from a new report commissioned by Friends Provident. The Freetirement Generation Report found that people aged between 52 and 60 have achieved a form of perfect work/balance younger people may never be able to afford. A quarter of freetirees said they had the freedom to choose the type of work they wanted to do, while 22% said they worked for social contact and could now enjoy work without the stress and responsibility of the rat race. Dr Peter Marsh, of the Social Issues Research Centre and author of the report, said: "The freetirement generation is in a unique position, having lived through a period of relative economic prosperity and booming house prices."
Lancashire Telegraph — 06.04.2007
Stars back Telegraph campaign. Officials and figures of authority have a valid point when they say speeding kills. But young drivers are not always likely to listen to a politician or a policeman because their message will often come across as a lecture. Dr Peter Marsh of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, says that campaigners may find it difficult to get young drivers to slow down. He said: "People, especially young men, don't want to give up thrill-seeking, risk-taking or macho displays. "But the younger generation has started to wake up to drink-driving dangers. The risk isn't wiped out but it is considered uncool. We have to make them see speeding in the same light."
Tech News Review — 02.04.2007
Life online: The Web in 2020: A study by the Social Issues Research Centre. The Life online report, looking as it does toward a vision of the Web in the year 2020, aims to provide an outline and analysis not only of projected technological developments but also their social, political and economic implications. What will the Web look like in 2020? What will it do? Where will it be? How will we use it? SIRC's starting point has been the notion that the Web in 2020 will meet human needs more fully than it does at present, with many resulting social and political implications. It will have come to provide a renewed forum for social cohesion and democracy as well as continuing as a platform for information, entertainment, communication, shopping, etc. But will it, as some predict, provide a digital alternative to 'real life', with the distinction between Human and machine becoming ever-more blurred? Or will it, as we believe, be not so indistinguishable from the Web we know today.
Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) — 01.04.2007
Man enough to cry over present Sri Lankan crisis. Are we in Sri Lanka continuing to ignore recent research which suggests that expressing emotions more freely results in improved well-being and that 'emotional intelligence' plays an integral role in our rational decision making? In the UK, a recent study found British men were much more ready to openly shed a tear than their fathers and grandfathers. The survey of 2000 Brits by the Social Issues Research Centre, found 30 per cent of British males studied had cried in the past month, while only two per cent couldn't remember when they last cried. The study found 77 per cent of men considered crying in public increasingly acceptable. Almost half the British men surveyed shed a tear over a sad movie, book or TV programme. Self-pity started 17 per cent crying and nine per cent sobbed at weddings.
Miami Herald — 31.03.2007
Coming clean about dishing dirt. Social researchers estimate two-thirds of all conversation is devoted to gossip. And studies suggest it's no idle pursuit, that gossip might serve a valuable societal function. It's the social glue that holds us together, currency we use to buy into inner circles -- and buy more information. And researchers have found that gossip has a therapeutic quality, giving us a natural endorphin rush and an avenue to vent frustrations. ''Gossip is everywhere. It involves every one of us,'' says rumor authority Richard Weiner, a public-relations veteran who turned the Cabbage Patch dolls into a pop cultural phenomenon of the 1980s. Technology has made it easier, and faster, to traffic gossip. A study last year from the Social Issues Research Centre, a nonprofit think-tank in England, found our newfangled devices have helped us re-create the natural, instinctual communication patterns that bonded us before the industrial revolution fragmented our social networks.
The Times — 28.03.2007
Stone Age brains built the web. Technology might develop frighteningly fast ... but "if a web application . . . does not fulfil a timeless human need, it will not succeed". And our needs are more basic than some might think — the centre comments: "Physical survival, passing genes to future generations and social bonding . . . inside our 21st-century skulls are essentially Stone Age brains."
Chicago Tribune — 28.03.2007
The truth about gossip. It can be good for you, experts say. The Social Issues Research Centre in Britain determined in 2001 that men and women gossip the same amount, and gossip comprises two-thirds of conversation time. But Charlotte De Backer, who researched gossip at the University of California-Santa Barbara, said that estimate is too high. "My guess is that about 50 percent is more accurate," De Backer said. "People putting forward the 70 percent ... include self talk into the discourse of gossip, and I do not agree with that."
Computer Active — 28.03.2007
Report predicts new digital divide. A report by a British think tank has made several predictions about how we will live in the year 2020. One prediction is by that time, a new 'digital divide' will have opened, between those who use the internet and computers by choice, and those who 'drop out' in a movement to break away from technology. A second divide will exist between people in developed nations and populations in Asia, South America and southern Africa, who are unable to connect to the internet. The report, by the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), theorises that by 2020, voting will take place online and using mobile phones, leading to increased turnout, but also to more referendums. According to the report's authors, a 'technophobe' movement will by 2020 have grown into a 'substantial alternative community' led by people seeking a better quality of life away from computers.
National Post (Canada) — 24.03.2007
The English seem more polite than other nationalities not because they are more kindly disposed to the people around then, but because, in an effort to be more polite, they so often fret about rudeness. The problem is that the more manners you invent to combat rudeness, the more opportunities there are to be rude. And so, when faced with a foreigner who does not know or care about British politesse — whether a snooty Frenchman, a brash American, or a stern German — the average Briton is thrown for a loop. Irony is the defining characteristic of both English humour and English manners. This is no accident. For the English, ironic humour — saying one thing but meaning another, or using extreme understatement — signals that one gets it, that they are part of the system, which is also the central purpose of manners. As the anthropologist Kate Fox points out in Watching the English, the English respect "the importance of not being earnest rule," which is to say that sincerity and seriousness is acceptable, but earnestness and solemnity are not. "We aspire to mode sty," she writes. "The modesty that we actually display is generally false — or, to put it more charitably, ironic."
Convenience Store — 23.03.2007
Dash & carry. Keen competition between van manufacturers means there are some great deals on this year's models. There's good news for anyone who has ever been cut up in traffic by a gesticulating oaf in a shabby Transit — White Van Man is a dying breed. Silver, it appears, is now the colour of choice for the discerning goods vehicle driver, and the upgrade has brought with it a change in behaviour. The Social Issues Research Centre has found that a posher van - most commonly a silver metallic-finish vehicle with a range of extras - has turned the scourge of the streets into more considerate drivers.
Northewest Herald (Chicago) — 21.03.2007
Gossip comes naturally. Technology has made it easier, and faster, to traffic gossip. A study last year from the Social Issues Research Centre, a nonprofit think-tank in England, found our newfangled devices have helped us re-create the natural, instinctual communication patterns that bonded us before the industrial revolution fragmented our tight-knit social networks.
Boston Globe — 18.03.2007
Bar brawl of the sexes. There's something I've been wondering for a while now — do drinks have genders? ... I'm not the first to speculate whether there are specific sexual connotations behind drink orders. The Social Issues Research Centre in the U.K. did a study on the social and cultural aspects of drinking and found the drinks I'm longing for — sweet and soft — are perceived to be more feminine.
Future Matters — 14.03.2007
Living Trends. People are increasingly changing the way in which they make important decisions. A report commissioned by eBay and the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) identified a new group of 'Life Shoppers' who make life changing decisions based on fashion, impulse and systematic wearing down of all available options. So called 'grown-up' decisions (marriage, children jobs) are being made later and later in life, life shopping decisions will be delayed until well into peoples 20s and 30s. It is predicted that by 2012 30 will be the new 'official' age for transition into adulthood.
Public Technology.Net — 12.03.2007
Next online 'Generation C' will be nicer people than Generation X, says report. Tomorrow's Generation C will be nicer then today's Generation X, according to a report by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), conducted on behalf of Rackspace Managed Hosting ... The term Generation X comes from a fiction book written in 1991 by Douglas Coupland in which three strangers distance themselves from society. He describes the characters as, "underemployed, overeducated, intensely private and unpredictable." In contrast, Dr. Peter Marsh of SIRC says: "...'Generation C' ...will be middle aged by 2020. This generation has grown up under the Web ideologies of open access, co-operation, exchange and sharing of information, as will all further generations. This will have profound implications for our society."
Daily Times (Maryland) — 09.03.2007
A regular brotherhood. According to the Social Issues Research Centre, an English nonprofit organization dedicated to lifestyle issues, the first step is to choose your pub carefully. Don't just point at a bar and say, "That one." You want a small and friendly locals' bar, not one of the giant tourist super clubs where your efforts won't be noticed. Make sure this locals' bar has the right vibe for you because you can't be a regular everywhere. Get caught honeymooning as a regular at another bar, and you'll lose privileges like any other cheater.
Sunday Telegraph — 06.03.2007
Stuck on the ground, bungalow prices soar. The bungalow is the quintessentially British home. Conceived by Indian builders in Bengal in the 18th century, copies first appeared in south London in 1860 ... this is the type of home that makes British people happier than any other, according to a survey by the Social Issues Research Centre conducted on behalf of Halifax Insurance.
Globe and Mail (Canada) — 24.02.2007
Social Studies: How to gossip. "Gossip is the human equivalent of 'social grooming' among primates, which has been shown to stimulate production of endorphins, relieving stress and boosting the immune system," writes Kate Fox for the Social Issues Research Centre. "Two-thirds of all human conversation is gossip, because this 'vocal grooming' is essential to our social, psychological and physical well-being. [Cellphones] facilitate gossip.
The Times — 24.02.2007
So happy we're having a bawl. A good night out used to involve a few drinks and a laugh with friends, so why do people now want their night to end in tears? In a new survey by the Social Issues Research Centre, an Oxford-based market research company, over half of the people questioned admitted to weeping in the past six months over nothing sad in particular, they just did so because they felt like it. Nearly two thirds of those surveyed believed that letting out your emotions was good for your health.
Telegraph — 23.02.2007
Women make better drivers as well. A survey by a road safety charity and car breakdown service published yesterday showed that most drivers were unaware that risk-taking men posed the greatest hazard. Forty-six per cent believed men were more dangerous, while 42 per cent said there was little difference between the sexes. Eight per cent thought women were a greater menace. However, statistics produced by the Home Office last year showed that 97 per cent of motorists convicted of dangerous driving were male. This, says a separate study by the Social Issues Research Centre, is because, while women are likely to make low-risk mistakes such as stalling at junctions, men are more prone to "thrill seek" or more likely to be convicted of speeding and drink driving.
The Age — 12.02.2007
Being British still means always having to say you're sorry. When an Englishman touches you, you know something big is going on. It was very un-British of the man to have been so blunt. Most of his compatriots would have simply tut-tutted or harrumphed. But otherwise he was entirely in national character. He was defending his country's ancient code of courtesy. Bump into the English (and perhaps the Scots and Welsh) in the street and the odds are they will say sorry, even when it is clearly your fault. Anthropologist Kate Fox went out bumping with intent as a field experiment for her book, Watching the English. She collected scores of apologies.
Guardian — 05.02.2007
Scent to try us. Of all our five senses, smell might not be the most acute, but it is the most easily offended. So, it is depressing to think that so many of us spend eight hours a day, five days a week exposed to the aromas of the office ... But while all but the most pungent of smells in the office might not register on our conscious minds, according to the Smell Report research carried out by Kate Fox, companies are keen to exploit these strong reactions. The next time you're late paying a bill it could be interesting to sniff your final reminder.
Psychology Today — January/February 2007
Mood Tools: High-Tech Tethers. Just as some people are unusually drawn to the illicit lure of gambling or drinking too much, some may be particularly likely to grasp onto electronic umbilical cords ... But it could be that humans are in fact well suited to the wireless age. "Whenever there is a new technological advancement, people automatically want to think about how it could be bad for us," says Kate Fox, a social anthropologist and director of the Social Issues Research Center in Oxford, England. "I take a different perspective: If this is so popular, what sort of deep-seated need is it fulfilling?" ... We long lived in very small communities where grooming talk was natural," Fox says. Since families have scattered while throngs of strangers coexist in cities, cell phones are "an antidote to the alienation of modern urban life." The downsides, Fox points out, resemble the disadvantages in village living. "There is no privacy, you can't get away from family and friends, and you can start to feel claustrophobic."
The Times — 23.01.2007
This is a hold-up/ Hugging a total stranger in public satisfies a deep human need, say the psychologists, but it just isn't British. Or is it? ... A recent study by the Social Issues Research Centre revealed that fewer than 5 per cent of Britons think that they are good at showing positive emotion. Would such a crude display of sentiment be welcome in the land of the stiff upper lip, I wondered. The raucous laughter that fell upon my proposition in the office that we help Londoners to 'spread the love' suggested not.
Daily Mail — 22.01.2007
Rise of the killer bags. Supersize totes may be all the rage, but should they come with a health warning? ... According to social anthropologist, Kate Fox, of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, our love of large luggage isn't just down to fashion. "Larger women generally prefer to carry a big bag as it makes their bum look smaller in comparison. And, the fashionably petite like to emphasise their size zero status by carrying an outsize bag." No wonder skinny minnies like Mary-Kate Olsen and Posh are always dragging around handbags the size of houses.
Press Association — 14.01.2007
Stiff Upper Lip 'Could Hamper Happiness'. British people enjoy a good moan and still hide behind the 'stiff upper lip', according to a report. The findings were based on a nationwide survey conducted by the Social Issues Research Centre which questioned more than 2,500 people on their emotions. The report formed the basis of Kleenex's new campaign to encourage the British to show their emotions and make themselves happier and healthier.
The Sun — 11.01.2007
Moan the Scots. Scotsare less likely to moan about our woes than the English, a new study has revealed. The Social Issues Research Centre also found we are the most likely to have a guilty conscience — and can't help confessing our sins. SIRC co-director Kate Fox, who led the survey for tissue firm Kleenex, said: "People who are better able to express their emotions tend to feel happier."
CNN — 09.01.2007
Negotiating the cultural maze. As any modern business executive knows, the hardest part of working outside your own country can be negotiating the maze of codes and values that govern work — as well as life — in that culture ... Kate Fox, author of a well-regarded book called Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, gave them an insight into notion of 'Englishness'. "There are hundreds of unwritten social rules that we English obey without thinking -- but that to foreigners can be confusing and often infuriating," she noted. "The English sense of humor alone can be a minefield for foreign executives trying to do business here. I tried to provide some insight into our bizarre quirks, habits and reflex reactions."
British Psychological Society Proceedings — 09.01.2007
Yeppies: Fact or fiction. The current graduate job market currently has graduates constantly changing their minds about what they want and expect from their career. What they initially thought was important when they started, e.g. salary, can change as they become increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs especially as they think they can find something better. The Social Issues Research Centre named this new generation of graduates the Yeppies (Young Experimenting Perfection Seekers). Research on job satisfaction has focused on Holland's theory of occupational congruence and job-environment fit.
Mirror — 09.01.2007
Let it all out. If you're still cringing about your antics at the office Christmasparty, you're not alone. A staggering 60 per cent of women under 30,and 40 per cent of 30-somethings, admit they made fools of themselves, according to a survey by the Social Issues Research Centre and Kleenex. However, generally women don't let their feelings show at work. The study says that men are twice as likely to offload in front of their boss. Other findings include: nearly a third of us moan as a way ofbonding with others, two-thirds of us wouldn't approach a stranger crying in the street, and women like a cup of tea when they're upset — whereas men prefer a pint.