Ep 221: The Facebook Study on Your Emotions: Ethical or Not?

MichaelEmotion, Ethics, Research and Stats, Social PsychologyLeave a Comment

Facebook Experiment on Social ContagionYou may have heard that Facebook manipulated the content of user’s New Feeds during January of 2012 so that some users saw more positive posts than others, while other Facebook users saw more negative posts. They interpret this as an indication of Social Contagion on a massive scale (almost 700,000 Facebook users were part of the study). How did this affect these users? Did those who say negative posts become more negative and vice versa? The answer is that the research indicates that some of them – though a very, very few of them – did subsequently write posts that were similar to the ones that saw on their News Feed. How big of an effect is this? Is it unethical? Does agreeing to Facebook’s Terms of Use constitute “informed consent“. I examine these questions in this episode of The Psych Files.


Resources on the Facebook Study

Below is a map I put together with resources on the Facebook experiment. It’s a large map and if you want to view it in a larger size click here.

Again – here’s the link to the map that will open full screen.

  • To learn more about Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, listen to my interview with James Pennebaker: The Secret Life of Pronouns – an Interview with James Pennebaker

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