Shankar Vedantam

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You know, when we think about disparities in American education, we think about things like race, gender. There is also income, which is one of the most persistent disparities. Children from more affluent families do better in school on average than children from poor families. And there's new social science research exploring why this is the case. To talk about it, I'm joined by NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam. Hey, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, David.

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There's an old saying that if you want to get something done, always ask a busy person. Researchers have scientifically tested that theory. And NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam joins us now to explain what they found. Hey ya.

Note: The audio for this story was updated on September 20th, 2016. On September 8th, Airbnb released a report on its efforts to combat discrimination and bias on its platform, and announced several changes to its policies surrounding issues of discrimination and diversity.

Quirtina Crittenden was struggling to get a room on Airbnb. She would send a request to a host. Wait. And then get declined.

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You know, from Wall Street to Las Vegas, a lot of people take chances. And there's now some new social science research looking at how the mood of a gambler can change the way he thinks about the risk. NPR's Shankar Vedantam is here to explain this. Hey, Shankar.

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So what happens now now that "Mad Men" is over? This is a real question that researchers have studied, and NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to tell us about it. Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

Let's say you're a young person, around 30 years old. And you're the kind of person who likes to take risks. So maybe you're taking risks in your sexual relationships. You're not practicing safe sex.

What would make you change your behavior?

That's a question that's long been pondered by public health officials. And now new research from a World Bank-funded team in Lesotho, a tiny country in southern Africa, has produced a surprising answer.

Lottery tickets!

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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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