Being happy to become a better citizen: happiness can help fight corruption

In this blog, Dr Luca Andriani, from the Department of Management, provides a summary of the 2022 study entitled ‘Corruption and life satisfaction: evidence from a transition survey’. The study was co-authored by Gaygysyz Ashyrov from Estonian Business School, in Tallinn, Estonia, and appeared in appeared in Kyklos, International Review for Social Science. 

Happiness is not only a state of individual achievement, but also a resource for a collective to become a better society. This is because happiness can drive individuals to be more committed towards their surrounding environment. Hence, a key question in our study was the following:  

Can happiness help fight corruption?
Corruption is bad for economies and societies, as it causes socio-economic distortions by reducing funds devoted for public goods, like safety, social services, and infrastructure. Good policies and regulations are essential to prevent people’s engagement in bribery. However, similar policies and reforms function in some countries better than in others. Fighting corruption, therefore, cannot lie exclusively upon appropriate policies and regulations. It also requires social support and public engagement.  

Our results clearly suggest that: 

  • Individuals more satisfied with their life conditions and financial situations are more likely to report a corrupt exchange if witnessed 
  • They are also more likely to believe that other people’s actions against corruption can make a difference 

Former Soviet Bloc and “Happiness Gap”: anti-corruption reforms are not enough
The context of our study focuses on the countries of the former Soviet Bloc. Despite numerous anti-corruption reforms introduced since the end of the Cold War to facilitate the institutional transition towards more market-oriented economies, corruption and bribery are still highly prevalent. Additionally, Central and Eastern European countries suffer from the so called “Happiness Gap”. This refers to Central and Eastern European citizens being less satisfied with their life than their Western neighbours, despite the economic convergence of these countries with the rest of Western Europe in the last two decades.  

The “Happiness Gap” is related to citizens’ feelings of uncertainty and frustration caused by the new way of living according to new rules governed by a more liberal market economy and democratic regime. Competing with fellow citizens to get a job, being unemployed, and feeling poorer compared to very close neighbours were emotions and conditions unknown during the communist regime in the Soviet Bloc nations. Under these new circumstances, individuals attribute this condition of unhappiness to public institutions and consider them ultimately responsible for the lack of well-being in the society they govern. We suggest, then, that implementing policies that improve citizens’ life conditions and expectations may have a positive impact on other aspects of the law and order of society.  

Happier citizens with better access to socio-economic resources may be more loyal to their public authority and more compliant with rules put in place to govern that society.
B
eyond our specific context of analysis, our study also presents a warning for Western Europe and other “high-income” economies. The increase in inequality and, hence, a subsequent decline of individuals’ life satisfaction, might drive citizens to become less compliant with rules, and more tolerant towards anti-social behaviour. In this respect, happiness has monetary value. Anti-social and illegal behaviours represent increasing monetary costs for society.  

A better understanding of the factors able to prevent, and reduce these behaviours, will help estimate these costs. Using indicators of happiness and life satisfaction to estimate anti-social behavioural patterns will allow valuation of the overall monetary benefit that can come from improving life conditions. This will help policymakers conduct more effective cost-benefit analyses of non-market service policies like those aiming to increase citizens’ life conditions. Even though corruption will still likely persist, it will be less tolerated – which is a key condition for fighting corruption. 

More information: 

Share

A systematic review of interventions to support adults with ADHD at work – Implications from the paucity of context-specific research for theory and practice.

 By Kirsty Lauder, Almuth McDowall & Harriet R Tenenbaum (2022)

Why is this topic important?

People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or ADHDers, can face workplace challenges that need supporting. Identifying the best support for ADHDers is important because the workplace is somewhere many adults spend their lives!

What is the purpose of this article?
We wanted to know what the evidence is for effective support to see if there is any research about ADHD and the workplace. One way to find out the best forms of support is to evaluate all the published academic research on a topic using a research method called a systematic review.

We found 143 published studies that evaluated support or ‘interventions’ for adult ADHDers. We looked at what was similar and different across all the studies and wanted to know:

  • where the research was conducted;
  • who the research participants were;
  • what kinds of support were evaluated;
  • what kind of support was most effective;
  • what support is relevant to the workplace.

What personal or professional perspectives do the authors bring to this topic?
The authors either identify as neurodivergent and/or have experience of working with people who identify as neurodivergent.

What did the authors find?
1/3 of studies were conducted in North America. The others were from Europe or Asia.

  • Most of the research participants were outpatients of ADHD Clinics, which means they get supported after getting an ADHD diagnosis from a psychiatrist.
  • 61% of the 143 studies evaluated medication and whether it reduces the core ADHD symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
  • The remaining 39% of studies evaluated psychosocial support (training, cognitive behavioural therapy- CBT) or a combination of both medication and psychosocial support.
  • Medication is effective at reducing the core symptoms in the short term.
  • Psychosocial support is effective in improving emotional and social challenges.
  • A closer look at each study revealed the important components of effective support to be:
    • an increased awareness of what ADHD is between the ADHDer and their support network.
    • a good relationship with the medical professional working with the ADHDer.
    • inclusion in group sessions with other ADHDers.
  • No studies were conducted in the workplace or related to the workplace.
  • Some of the skills training and coaching support focused on work-related challenges like time management and performance.

What do the authors recommend?
The authors recommend more research on what effective workplace support is for ADHDers. The more research there is, the easier it will be for practitioners to rely on an evidence-base for decision-making.

The existing research, mapped in this study, shows us which strategies are most effective for ADHDers:

  • A combination of medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or skills training/coaching.
  • Involving the ADHDer’s support network.
  • Learning about ADHD and its impact on individuals.
  • A good quality relationship with support professionals.

How will these recommendations help ADHDers now or in the future?
In the future, we can apply these ideas to the workplace to make sure that managers and co-workers are included in the awareness of and support for ADHD, and to ensure that the ADHDer has psychosocial and medical support available.

More information: 

Share

Intersectional stigma at work

This is a lay summary of Doyle, Nancy and McDowall, Almuth and Waseem, Uzma (2022) Intersectional stigma for Autistic people at work: a compound adverse impact effect on labor force participation and experiences of belonging. Autism in Adulthood.

Why is this an important issue?

Employment data show that autistic people find it harder to get and keep work. This study focuses on understanding if multiple identities and people’s background make a difference.

What is the purpose of this study?

We asked a group of Autistic people about gender and race, as well as being gay lesbian, bisexual, transexual or queer (LGBTQ). We asked where people live, their education, parents’ education and if they had any

diagnoses in addition to autism. We predicted that these things would have a negative effect on autistic employment rates. We thought they would also affect how autistic people felt at work.

What we did

An online survey was completed by 576 autistic people. We analyzed whether their identities and backgrounds made it more or less likely that they were in work. We then asked the 387 employed people within this group about their experiences at work. We compared their experiences by identity and background to see if these made a positive or negative difference.

What we found

We found that white Autistic people living in western countries such as the USA and Europe were more likely to have jobs. They were also more likely to jobs specifically designed for Autistic people. We found that women, non-binary and transgender autistic people felt less included at work. We also f

ound that feeling that someone cares is more important than any adjustments to work scheduling such as flexible working to support people.

What do these findings add to what was already known?

It is already known that autistic people are less likely to be in work than non-autistic people. This study shows that these overall numbers are masking important differences arising from gender, race and ethnicity.

What are the potential weaknesses in the study?

The survey was taken at one point in time, which doesn’t explain how these differences happened. Most people wh

o completed the study were highly educated. We didn’t have enough people from the non-western countries or communities of color. Therefore, the sample is not large or diverse enough to draw firm conclusions.

How will the study help Autistic people now or in the future?

We hope that the study inspires people to think about different identities and additional stigma for autism at work programs. We have provided a sample of baseline data from all over the world which shows a difference by location. Even though this is just a trend, it might spark more research looking at the crossover between autism, identities and backgrounds. It provides a starting point to help researchers who want to do longer studies that test interventions to improve autistic participation and experiences in work.

Further Information

Share

Biological Sciences research team take us aboard the Intracellular Express!

In this blog, Dr Lucy Troman, Postdoctoral Research Associate (Biological Sciences) reflects on the adventurous approach taken to help the public understand cell functioning and regulation within the human body and the relevance to cancers, malaria and other disorders. 

pic of Lucy Troman

Dr Lucy Troman: conductor for the Intracellular Express

Earlier this year, in the Summer, myself and a team of Birkbeck’s Biological Sciences researchers attended the GreenMan festival in Wales to communicate our research to the public.  Our interactive engagement stall, funded by the Birkbeck Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF), used the relatable analogy of catching a train to enable visitor engagement with the transport networks within the cell: the cytoskeleton. This enabled us to communicate some of the cytoskeleton research done here at Birkbeck.  

GreenMan is the largest festival in Wales attracting 25,000 people from across the UK with a schedule of world-class live music and comedy. In addition to arts, the award-winning festival houses a dedicated science engagement area, Einstein’s Garden, offering the unique opportunity to reach a diverse audience with a wide range of science capital and literacy, many of whom might not usually engage with science.  

Our team played out the role of train conductors and distributed tickets for the Intracellular Express; an interactive scavenger hunt around Einstein’s garden. To participate, members of the public acted as transporters along the cytoskeleton where they had to follow the clues to successfully transport cargo to different organelles within the cell. Over the four-day period we had over 240 people successfully complete the activity and received extremely positive feedback. 

The cytoskeleton is primarily made up of three filaments used for cellular structure and organisation: actin, microtubules and intermediate filaments. The dynamic regulation of these filaments allow different specialised cell types to achieve a diverse range of different roles within your body.The key cellular role means the cytoskeleton has an expansive disease relevance. For example, the role of microtubules within cell division makes them an important target for anti-cancer therapeutics. Dysfunctional regulation of microtubules is often associated with neuronal disorder. Additionally, microtubules are critical for viral replication and they play key roles within the life cycle of the parasites responsible for malaria making them important potential targets for both anti-viral and anti-malarial therapeutics.  

Both myself and other members of Professor Carolyn Moores research group use a technique called cryo-electron microscopy to determine what these filamentous structures look like and through this we hope to gain insight into their dynamics and regulation both within mammals like humans, but also within parasites. My research looks at comparing the microtubules between different species of frogs. Frogs or Xenopus are good model organisms as they have large eggs containing lots of microtubules, and they have far less complexity than human systems. We are hoping that what we learn about the filaments in frogs will translate back to the same systems within humans. 

Share