Shankar Vedantam

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And I'm sitting in the studio with NPR's social science correspondent, Shankar Vedantam. And, Shankar, do you know why you're here?

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Geez, David, that sounds really ominous.

(LAUGHTER)

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Why do people sometimes give generously to a cause — and other times give nothing at all?

That's a timely question, because humanitarian groups fighting the Ebola outbreak need donations from people in rich countries. But some groups say they're getting less money than they'd expect from donors despite all the news.

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In recent years, social scientists have tried to find out whether important decisions are shaped by subtle biases. They've studied recruiters as they decide whom to hire. They've studied teachers, deciding which students to help at school. And they've studied doctors, figuring out what treatments to give patients. Now, researchers have trained their attention on a new group of influential people — state legislators.

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Medical tests are rarely a pleasant experience, especially if you're worried that something could be seriously wrong. That's true even though we know that regular screenings and tests often help doctors catch issues early.

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In the land that came up with the phrase "Thank God it's Friday," and a restaurant chain to capitalize on the sense of relief many feel as the work week ends, researchers made an unusual finding in 2012.

Moms who worked full time reported significantly better physical and mental health than moms who worked part time, research involving more than 2,500 mothers found. And mothers who worked part time reported better health than moms who didn't work at all.

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From NPR news this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

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Our David Greene recently discussed some new social science research with NPR's Shankar Vedantam.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: He's here in our studios again. Shankar, what's up?

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From Syria to Afghanistan, to Russia and Ukraine, the United States finds itself confronting some major foreign policy challenges. There are old rivalries and new one testing the limits of the United States.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

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