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When election expectations fail: Polarized perceptions of election legitimacy increase with accumulating evidence of election outcomes and with polarized media

December 1, 2021

The present study, conducted immediately after the 2020 presidential election in the United States, examined whether Democrats' and Republicans' polarized assessments of election legitimacy increased over time. In a naturalistic survey experiment, people (N = 1,236) were randomly surveyed either during the week following Election Day, with votes cast but the outcome unknown, or during the following week, after President Joseph Biden was widely declared the winner. The design unconfounded the election outcome announcement from the vote itself, allowing more precise testing of predictions derived from cognitive dissonance theory. As predicted, perceived election legitimacy increased among Democrats, from the first to the second week following Election Day, as their expected Biden win was confirmed, whereas perceived election legitimacy decreased among Republicans as their expected President Trump win was disconfirmed. From the first to the second week following Election Day, Republicans reported stronger negative emotions and weaker positive emotions while Democrats reported stronger positive emotions and weaker negative emotions. The polarized perceptions of election legitimacy were correlated with the tendencies to trust and consume polarized media. Consumption of Fox News was associated with lowered perceptions of election legitimacy over time whereas consumption of other outlets was associated with higher perceptions of election legitimacy over time. Discussion centers on the role of the media in the experience of cognitive dissonance and the implications of polarized perceptions of election legitimacy for psychology, political science, and the future of democratic society.

The psychological effects of forced family separation on asylum-seeking children and parents at the US-Mexico border: A qualitative analysis of medico-legal documents

November 24, 2021

The U.S. government forcibly separated more than 5,000 children from their parents between 2017 and 2018 through its "Zero Tolerance" policy. It is unknown how many of the children have since been reunited with their parents. As of August 1, 2021, however, at least 1,841 children are still separated from their parents. This study systematically examined narratives obtained as part of a medico-legal process by trained clinical experts who interviewed and evaluated parents and children who had been forcibly separated. The data analysis demonstrated that 1) parents and children shared similar pre-migration traumas and the event of forced family separation in the U.S.; 2) they reported signs and symptoms of trauma following reunification; 3) almost all individuals met criteria for DSM diagnoses, even after reunification; 4) evaluating clinicians consistently concluded that mental health treatment was indicated for both parents and children; and 5) signs of malingering were absent in all cases.

Increasing Black, Indigenous and People of Color participation in clinical trials through community engagement and recruitment goal establishment

October 19, 2021

Longstanding social and economic inequities elevate health risks and vulnerabilities for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Engagement of BIPOC communities in infectious disease research is a critical component in efforts to increase vaccine confidence, acceptability, and uptake of future approved products. Recent data highlight the relative absence of BIPOC communities in vaccine clinical trials. Intentional and effective community engagement methods are needed to improve BIPOC inclusion. We describe the methods utilized for the successful enrollment of BIPOC participants in the U.S. Government (USG)-funded COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN)-sponsored vaccine efficacy trials and analyze the demographic and enrollment data across the efficacy trials to inform future efforts to ensure inclusive participation. Across the four USG-funded COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials for which data are available, 47% of participants enrolled at CoVPN sites in the US were BIPOC. White enrollment outpaced enrollment of BIPOC participants throughout the accrual period, requiring the implementation of strategies to increase diverse and inclusive enrollment. Trials opening later benefitted considerably from strengthened community engagement efforts, and greater and more diverse volunteer registry records. Despite robust fiscal resources and a longstanding collaborative and collective effort, enrollment of White persons outpaced that of BIPOC communities. With appropriate resources, commitment and community engagement expertise, the equitable enrollment of BIPOC individuals can be achieved. To ensure this goal, intentional efforts are needed, including an emphasis on diversity of enrollment in clinical trials, establishment of enrollment goals, ongoing robust community engagement, conducting population-specific trials, and research to inform best practices.

Warmer and wetter conditions will reduce offspring production of hawksbill turtles in Brazil under climate change

November 8, 2018

Climate change is expected to impact animals that are heavily reliant on environmental factors, such as sea turtles, since the incubation of their eggs, hatching success and sex ratio are influenced by the environment in which eggs incubate. As climate change progresses it is therefore important to understand how climatic conditions influence their reproductive output and the ramifications to population stability. Here, we examined the influences of five climatic variables (air temperature, accumulated and average precipitation, humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed) at different temporal scales on hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) hatchling production at ten nesting beaches within two regions of Brazil (five nesting beaches in Rio Grande do Norte and five in Bahia). Air temperature and accumulated precipitation were the main climatic drivers of hawksbill hatching success (number of eggs hatched within a nest) across Brazil and in Rio Grande do Norte, while air temperature and average precipitation were the main climatic drivers of hatching success at Bahia. Solar radiation was the main climatic driver of emergence success (number of hatchlings that emerged from total hatched eggs within a nest) at both regions. Warmer temperatures and higher solar radiation had negative effects on hatchling production, while wetter conditions had a positive effect. Conservative and extreme climate scenarios show air temperatures are projected to increase at this site, while precipitation projections vary between scenarios and regions throughout the 21st century. We predicted hatching success of undisturbed nests (no recorded depredation or storm-related impacts) will decrease in Brazil by 2100 as a result of how this population is influenced by local climate. This study shows the determining effects of different climate variables and their combinations on an important and critically endangered marine species.

Impact of Social Capital, Harassment of Women and Girls, and Water and Sanitation Access on Premature Birth and Low Infant Birth Weight in India

October 8, 2018

Globally, preterm birth (PTB) and low infant birth weight (LBW) are leading causes of maternal and child morbidity and mortality. Inadequate water and sanitation access (WASH) are risk factors for PTB and LBW in low-income countries. Physical stress from carrying water and psychosocial stress from addressing sanitation needs in the open may be mechanisms underlying these associations. If so, then living in a community with strong social capital should be able to buffer the adverse effects of WASH on birth outcomes. The objective of this study is to assess the relationships between WASH access and social conditions (including harassment and social capital) on PTB and LBW outcomes among Indian women, and to test whether social conditions modified the association between WASH and birth outcomes

Stereotyping Across Intersections of Race and Age: Racial Stereotyping Among White Adults Working With Children

September 12, 2018

This study examined the prevalence of racial/ethnic stereotypes among White adults who work or volunteer with children, and whether stereotyping of racial/ethnic groups varied towards different age groups. Participants were 1022 White adults who volunteer and/or work with children in the United States who completed a cross-sectional, online survey. Results indicate high proportions of adults who work or volunteer with children endorsed negative stereotypes towards Blacks and other ethnic minorities. Respondents were most likely to endorse negative stereotypes towards Blacks, and least likely towards Asians (relative to Whites). Moreover, endorsement of negative stereotypes by race was moderated by target age. Stereotypes were often lower towards young children but higher towards teens

Relationship Between Food Waste, Diet Quality, and Environmental Sustainability

April 18, 2018

Improving diet quality while simultaneously reducing environmental impact is a critical focus globally. Metrics linking diet quality and sustainability have typically focused on a limited suite of indicators, and have not included food waste. To address this important research gap, we examine the relationship between food waste, diet quality, nutrient waste, and multiple measures of sustainability: use of cropland, irrigation water, pesticides, and fertilizers. Data on food intake, food waste, and application rates of agricultural amendments were collected from diverse US government sources. Diet quality was assessed using the Healthy Eating Index-2015. A biophysical simulation model was used to estimate the amount of cropland associated with wasted food. This analysis finds that US consumers wasted 422g of food per person daily, with 30 million acres of cropland used to produce this food every year. This accounts for 30% of daily calories available for consumption, one-quarter of daily food (by weight) available for consumption, and 7% of annual cropland acreage. Higher quality diets were associated with greater amounts of food waste and greater amounts of wasted irrigation water and pesticides, but less cropland waste. This is largely due to fruits and vegetables, which are health-promoting and require small amounts of cropland, but require substantial amounts of agricultural inputs. These results suggest that simultaneous efforts to improve diet quality and reduce food waste are necessary. Increasing consumers' knowledge about how to prepare and store fruits and vegetables will be one of the practical solutions to reducing food waste.

Economic Evaluation of a Mentorship and Enhanced Supervision Program to Improve Quality of Integrated Management of Childhood Illness Care in Rural Rwanda

March 16, 2018

Integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI) can reduce under-5 morbidity and mortality in low-income settings. A program to strengthen IMCI practices through Mentorship and Enhanced Supervision at Health centers (MESH) was implemented in two rural districts in eastern Rwanda in 2010. We estimated cost per improvement in quality of care as measured by the difference in correct diagnosis and correct treatment at baseline and 12 months of MESH. Costs of developing and implementing MESH were estimated in 2011 United States Dollars (USD) from the provider perspective using both top-down and bottom-up approaches, from programmatic financial records and site-level data. Improvement in quality of care attributed to MESH was measured through case management observations (n = 292 cases at baseline, 413 cases at 12 months), with outcomes from the intervention already published. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess uncertainty under different assumptions of quality of care and Integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI) can reduce under-5 morbidity and mortality in low-income settings. A program to strengthen IMCI practices through Mentorship and Enhanced Supervision at Health centers (MESH) was implemented in two rural districts in eastern Rwanda in 2010. We estimated cost per improvement in quality of care as measured by the difference in correct diagnosis and correct treatment at baseline and 12 months of MESH. Costs of developing and implementing MESH were estimated in 2011 United States Dollars (USD) from the provider perspective using both top-down and bottom-up approaches, from programmatic financial records and site-level data. Improvement in quality of care attributed to MESH was measured through case management observations (n = 292 cases at baseline, 413 cases at 12 months), with outcomes from the intervention already published. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess uncertainty under different assumptions of quality of care andpatient volume. The total annual cost of MESH was US$ 27,955.74 and the average cost added by MESH per IMCI patient was US$1.06. Salary and benefits accounted for the majority of total annual costs (US$22,400 /year). Improvements in quality of care after 12 months of MESH implementation cost US$2.95 per additional child correctly diagnosed and $5.30 per additional child correctly treated. The incremental costs per additional child correctly diagnosed and child correctly treated suggest that MESH could be an affordable method for improving IMCI quality of care elsewhere in Rwanda and similar settings. Integrating MESH into existing supervision systems would further reduce costs, increasing potential for spread.

Scaling participation in payments for ecosystem services programs

March 9, 2018

Payments for ecosystem services programs have become common tools but most have failed to achieve wide-ranging conservation outcomes. The capacity for scale and impact increases when PES programs are designed through the lens of the potential participants, yet this has received little attention in research or practice. Our work with small-scale marine fisheries integrates the social science of PES programs and provides a framework for designing programs that focus a priori on scaling. In addition to payments, desirable non-monetary program attributes and ecological feedbacks attract a wider range of potential participants into PES programs, including those who have more negative attitudes and lower trust. Designing programs that draw individuals into participating in PES programs is likely the most strategic path to reaching scale. Research should engage in new models of participatory research to understand these dynamics and to design programs that explicitly integrate a broad range of needs, values, and modes of implementation.

Advancing The Integration Of Spatial Data To Map Human And Natural Drivers On Coral Reefs

March 1, 2018

A major challenge for coral reef conservation and management is understanding how a wide range of interacting human and natural drivers cumulatively impact and shape these ecosystems. Despite the importance of understanding these interactions, a methodological framework to synthesize spatially explicit data of such drivers is lacking. To fill this gap, we established a transferable data synthesis methodology to integrate spatial data on environmental and anthropogenic drivers of coral reefs, and applied this methodology to a case study location–the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). Environmental drivers were derived from time series (2002–2013) of climatological ranges and anomalies of remotely sensed sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a, irradiance, and wave power. Anthropogenic drivers were characterized using empirically derived and modeled datasets of spatial fisheries catch, sedimentation, nutrient input, new development, habitat modification, and invasive species. Within our case study system, resulting driver maps showed high spatial heterogeneity across the MHI, with anthropogenic drivers generally greatest and most widespread on O'ahu, where 70% of the state's population resides, while sedimentation and nutrients were dominant in less populated islands. Together, the spatial integration of environmental and anthropogenic driver data described here provides a first-ever synthetic approach to visualize how the drivers of coral reef state vary in space and demonstrates a methodological framework for implementation of this approach in other regions of the world. By quantifying and synthesizing spatial drivers of change on coral reefs, we provide an avenue for further research to understand how drivers determine reef diversity and resilience, which can ultimately inform policies to protect coral reefs.

Coral reef fishes exhibit beneficial phenotypes inside marine protected areas

February 22, 2018

Human fishing effort is size-selective, preferentially removing the largest individuals from harvested stocks. Intensive, size-specific fishing mortality induces directional shifts in phenotypic frequencies towards the predominance of smaller and earlier-maturing individuals, which are among the primary causes of declining fish biomass. Fish that reproduce at smaller size and younger age produce fewer, smaller, and less viable larvae, severely reducing the reproductive capacity of harvested populations. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are extensively utilized in coral reefs for fisheries management, and are thought to mitigate the impacts of size-selective fishing mortality and supplement fished stocks through larval export. However, empirical evidence of disparities in fitness-relevant phenotypes between MPAs and adjacent fished reefs is necessary to validate this assertion. Here, we compare key life-history traits in three coral-reef fishes (Acanthurus nigrofuscus, Ctenochaetus striatus, and Parupeneus multifasciatus) between MPAs and fished reefs in the Philippines. Results of our analyses support previous hypotheses regarding the impacts of MPAs on phenotypic traits. Asymptotic length (Linf) and growth rates (K) differed between conspecifics in MPAs and fished reefs, with protected populations exhibiting phenotypes that are known to confer higher fecundity. Additionally, populations demonstrated increases in length at 50% maturity (L50) inside MPAs compared to adjacent areas, although age at 50% maturity (A50) did not appear to be impacted by MPA establishment. Shifts toward advantageous phenotypes were most common in the oldest and largest MPAs, but occurred in all of the MPAs examined. These results suggest that MPAs may provide protection against the impacts of size-selective harvest on life-history traits in coral-reef fishes.

More than 75 Percent Decline over 27 Years in Total Flying Insect Biomass in Protected Areas

October 18, 2017

Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning. Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna. Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.