Congrats to last year’s APS student research group for getting some nice recognition in this quarter’s issue (Jan/Feb) of Scientific American Mind. Writer David DiSalvo incorporated our results into his article “Are Social Networks Messing With Your Head?” We found that in contrast with previous reports of people “being somebody else” online, our college student participants brought their personas with them. If they were lonely offline, they were likely to be relatively less connected online than their less lonely peers. We have continued to refine our work on this topic during Fall Quarter with two additional questionnaires, and hope to publish our results soon.
I especially liked the way David DiSalvo did his research for the article. He described the empirical work of danah boyd and Nicole Ellison, Andrew Campbell, and John Cacioppo. In contrast, so many reports of social media are purely anecdotal, like the remarkably statistics-free recent piece in the New York Times (To Deal With Obsession, Some Defriend Facebook). In our research, we have run into students who quit using Facebook, and hopefully, someone is doing some research on this phenomenon. But interviewing a handful of students without any data, as the NYTimes article did, is hardly going to give us the big picture. Senior project anyone?
In the meantime, we just found out that our project for this year’s APS convention was accepted. It’s on a different line of work, but still fun. It’s going to be hard to top our “connect with me” LinkedIn t-shirts from last year, but we’re going to try.