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Stories this week at Wake Forest University

June 25, 2009

RATING ATTRACTIVENESS: STUDY FINDS CONSENSUS AMONG MEN, BUT NOT WOMEN – Hot or not? Men agree on the answer. Women don’t.  There is much more consensus among men about whom they find attractive than there is among women, according to a new study by Dustin Wood, assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest.  The study, co-authored by Claudia Brumbaugh of Queens College, appears in the June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  More than 4,000 participants in the study rated photographs of men and women (ages 18-25) for attractiveness on a 10-point scale ranging from “not at all” to “very.”Men’s judgments of women’s attractiveness were based primarily around physical features and they rated highly those who looked thin and seductive. As a group, the women rating men showed some preference for thin, muscular subjects, but disagreed on how attractive many men in the study were. Some women gave high attractiveness ratings to the men other women said were not attractive at all.  “As far as we know, this is the first study to investigate whether there are differences in the level of consensus male and female raters have in their attractiveness judgments,” Wood says. 

Contact: Cheryl Walker, or (336) 758-5237.



STUDENTS STUDY GLOBAL HEALTH ISSUES IN NICARAGUA – A group of Wake Forest students are in Nicaragua this summer with a study-abroad program combining health care, communication skills and service. During the three-week trip, students are encouraging healthy diets by building community gardens next to local schools in the city of Chinandega; helping staff health clinics in poor neighborhoods near San Juan Del Sur; and promoting hygiene among people living at Managua’s city dump. Health and exercise science professor Gary Miller is helping the students understand health statistics and nutritional issues in a global context, while communication associate professor Steve Giles is teaching them the importance of communication and education for healthy behavior modification. The class returns from Nicaragua July 2. The class is sponsored by the Pro Humanitate Center through a grant from the Lilly Endowment.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


FEATHER AND STONE EXCHANGE RETURNS FROM APACHE RESERVATION – Now in its fifth year, the Feather and Stone Exchange is deepening its connection to the San Carlos Apache Reservation in San Carlos, Ariz. This year, the 14 students and faculty members stayed in the homes of reservation residents, providing insight into the lives, culture and challenges modern Apaches face and forging strong friendships between the two communities. In past exchanges, Wake Forest students tutored Apache students, helped set up an athletic program for teens and mentored high school students about career and college options. Feather and Stone co-leaders, Wake Forest Chaplain Tim Auman and religion professor Ulrike Wiethaus, describe this year’s exchange as more of a listening session to gain a better understanding of the needs of the Apache community. “There is a roughly 75 percent unemployment rate on the reservation,” says Auman. “Only 1 percent of high school graduates go on to college and few of those return to the reservation.” This year, the leaders and students had the rare opportunity to meet with the reservation’s Council of Elders. Members of the 2009 Feather and Stone Exchange are available to discuss their experiences at the reservation and the developing ties between the two communities.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.

THE ‘NEW ECONOMY’ IS NOTHING NEW – David Coates, Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest University, says that the argument about the United States moving into a ‘new economy’ can be overstated. “Yes, the federal government is now heavily involved in ownership in sectors not normally so treated, such as the financial and automotive sectors,” he says, “but the federal government has long been a big economic player through Pentagon contracts, agricultural subsidies and National Institutes of Health research funding, just to name a few examples.” In addition, Coates suggests the United States needs more, not less, active industrial policy in order to address looming issues of long-term economic decline such as de-industrialization, a persistent shortfall in worker skills and the international trade deficit. Finally, Coates suggests that the term ‘new economy’ is being used to provoke fear that the United States is becoming a socialist country. “We’re not,” he says. “This is just an incremental shift towards a more managed economy, and after the financial meltdown, the case for a more carefully regulated financial sector is visibly stronger.”

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


CONFIRMATION ODDS ARE IN SOTOMAYOR’S FAVOR – President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter is historic, says Wake Forest political science professor Katy Harriger. If confirmed, Judge Sonia Sotomayor would be the third woman and the first Hispanic to serve on the high court. “Unless something no one knows about right now comes out in the process, the odds of confirmation are in Judge Sotomayor’s favor,” Harriger says, “given the political context—a sizable Democratic majority in the Senate, several Republican Senators that have supported her in past nominations to lower courts and a Republican party concerned about further alienating Hispanic voters.” Even so, Harriger notes that the federal judicial nomination process has become a highly politicized one during the last several decades, and there is every reason to expect that this nomination will face challenges from the opposing party and interest groups aligned with it. Harriger is an expert on the Supreme Court and is available to discuss its history, trends and the nomination process.

Contact: Audrey Fannin, or (336) 758-5237.


WFU LEGAL SCHOLAR AVAILABLE TO DISCUSS SUPREME COURT NOMINATION – Ron Wright, executive associate dean for academic affairs and professor of law at Wake Forest School of Law, is available to comment on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination for the Supreme Court.

Contact: Lisa Snedeker, or (336) 758-5719.


IS INFLATION LOOMING? ECONOMIC HISTORIAN SAYS ‘YES’–  As the so-called “Great Recession” drags on amid scattered signs of recovery, economists continue to debate whether deflation or inflation poses the greater threat.  While some haven’t made up their minds, Robert Whaples, department chair and professor of economics at Wake Forest is unequivocal.  “Deflation?  If you've never heard of it, you aren't alone,” Whaples says.  “My parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and they’ve never lived through a single year of deflation.  Once the U.S. left the gold standard during the Great Depression, deflation was basically consigned to the waste bin of history.  With the recent ballooning of the money supply and massive borrowing by the federal government, it will be hard not to have a noticeable uptick in inflation in the not-too-distant future.”  Whaples is the former director of EH.Net, the Web site of the Economic History Service, and co-editor of the book Historical Perspectives on the American Economy and editor of The Encyclopedia of Economic and Business History. His Modern Economic Issues course, a series of 36 half-hour lectures on issues ranging from global warming and Social Security to Wal-Mart and obesity, is available on CD and DVD from The Teaching Company. His article “Do Economists Agree on Anything?” is the most frequently downloaded article published in the journal The Economists’ Voice.

Contact: Eric Frazier, or (336) 758-5237.

WFU LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR PARTICIPATES IN UNITED NATIONS PROGRAM – Wake Forest School of Law Clinical Professor Kate Mewhinney recently participated in a United Nations program regarding older adults in Bonn, Germany.  It was the U.N.’s first Expert Group Meeting on the subject of aging and human rights.  The purpose of the three-day meeting was to provide the U.N. General Assembly with independent expert opinion on questions related to the rights of older persons. Mewhinney presented an overview of laws affecting older adults in the United States in the areas of healthcare, housing, age discrimination, abuse and neglect. She led a session that discussed some of the things the United States is doing well when it comes to the elder population and examined areas where we are weak.

Contact: Lisa Snedeker, or (336) 758-5719.

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