Let's Talk About Cyberpsychology (Tumblr)

I've moved a large part of this blog to focus instead on current events in the realm of Cyberpsychology. The resulting Tumblr feed, Let's Talk About Cyberpsychology, offers updated news across topics including psychology and social media, technology dependence, relationships in the digital age, online security and privacy, and hacking and cyberterrorism.

My thanks go to my excellent Research Assistants, who help maintain this feed throughout the academic year.

News sources include the Pew Internet Research Center, MIT Media Lab, NPR Technology, academic research in cyberpsychology, BBC Future, TheNextWeb, TED Talks: Technology, Fact Tank, AnonPress, AnonyOpNews, Gigaom, TechCrunch, and WIRED.

Snapchat as a Digital Advertising Platform

Snapchat as a Digital Advertising Platform

Guest post by Jessica Swarner (TwitterWebsiteLinkedIn).

Have you ever seen a teenager making a weird face at his phone in public? He’s most likely one of 40 percent of teenagers using Snapchat daily (Vaynerchuk, 2016)—the app that’s been known for its disappearing photos since 2012.

Snapchat: A Very Brief Description

You take a picture or video, add a filter or drawing, and set a timer for how long you want it to stick around on a friend’s phone. If you’re particularly proud of it, you can add it to a “story,” or a timeline where it will be viewable to any of your friends for 24 hours after posting.

Although you can replay a person’s snap, you can only do so once—meaning that at the very most, you have only 20 seconds to commit any given snap to memory. The fleeting nature of these photos has led many users to view Snapchat as a vehicle for behaviors ranging from silly faces to sexting and illegal activities.

E-Invitation to Online Participation: Presenting the Future of Youth Civic Engagement

E-Invitation to Online Participation: Presenting the Future of Youth Civic Engagement

Guest blog post written by Ashley Brennan

After recently celebrating my 22nd birthday, age serves as one of the most internally—and externally—salient features of my identity. The category defined as “youth” (or “young people”) represents a heterogeneous group uniting all variations of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, class, and ability by the overarching transition period between childhood and adulthood. [1]

Youth on the rise

As presented by Euromonitor International, the beginning of 2012 marked the 7 billion milestone for the world’s population. At this point, approximately 50.5% of the 7 billion people inhabiting the planet, were below the age of 30. Predictions indicate this percentage of young people is on the rise and will reach 3.6 billion by the year 2020.

Should Journalists Be Wary of Personal Branding?

Should Journalists Be Wary of Personal Branding?

Guest blog post written by Jessica Swarner (@jessica_swarner)

Are you annoyed by people who are always buried in their phones, checking and updating their social media profiles?

Before you judge them as technology-obsessed narcissists, consider this—it might be their job. Their apparent obsession with their profiles could be vital to their career, so much so that their health could be suffering for it.

Slacking in the workplace: Medicine for the modern employee?

Slacking in the workplace: Medicine for the modern employee?

Guest post written by Lily Kalaj.

We've all been guilty to some degree.

We brainstorm, develop an assignment, work for a while...and then comes the mental break.

We pull out our phones, tap a few buttons, and check our email. Or in some cases, maybe we just open another browser tab and read about our friend’s latest restaurant adventure.

Cyberslacking

These acts fall into the category of cyberslacking, which refers to the use of electronics for personal use during work hours: checking email, mindlessly surfing the web, shopping for holiday gifts, playing Candy Crush. Just today, you’ve probably peeked over your cubicle and noticed your neighbor scrolling through their Facebook news feed when they should have been compiling weekly metric stats.

Why are freedom and technological progress considered mutually exclusive?

Why are freedom and technological progress considered mutually exclusive?

Disclaimers

Below is a commentary minor rant, not necessarily a summary of scientific and academic literature on these topics. I refer to authors Sherry Turkle and Nicholas Carr, as well as Ancilla Tilia (nsfw), who apparently now gives talks at TheNextWeb (when did this happen?).

My main point: I'm tired of hearing this constantly recurring belief that technology is primarily detrimental for our well-being, relationships, safety, privacy, self-understanding.

Are there downsides?

Of course.

There always have been.

But these views are outdated and, oftentimes, uninformed. I've since received feedback that my tone comes off as "scornful" and "near authoritarian", and so be it: the world needs to wake up, y'all. Technology is here to stay, and while no one is forcing you to welcome rapid change with open arms (e.g., in communication, information retrieval, privacy, lifestyle), please just recognize progress for what it is: an opportunity for growth and transformation.

Can Your E-mails Identify You as a Traitor? Rogue Employees & Deception Detection

Can Your E-mails Identify You as a Traitor? Rogue Employees & Deception Detection

The Case of JPMorgan Chase A recent article from Bloomberg revealed that JPMorgan Chase & Co. is among the first of financial companies to use a program that evaluates insider threat -- that is, the possibility that a rogue employee will attack or damage their employer's information system or security.

This program pieces together dozens of variables to construct a digital mugshot of each employee. These variables range from whether employees skip compliance classes to whether they have breached or overridden company-placed limits.

It is no secret that Wall Street has faced incriminatory charges in the past. The industry has faced billions of dollars in fines for employees who rigged markets, cheated clients and other corporations, and assisted criminals both within and beyond our borders. In response, JPMorgan is electronically analyzing textual information ranging from e-mails and chats to telephone transcripts with the intention of uncovering concealment or deception.

Emerging Trends: The Psychological Impacts of Cyberlife Engagement

Emerging Trends: The Psychological Impacts of Cyberlife Engagement

I'm happy to say that Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Wiley, 2015) has just been published in print and online. In it, you can find my chapter -- written in collaboration with Virginia Kwan -- dedicated to the psychological impacts of cyberlife engagement. Click HERE for a link to this chapter. We cover the history and development of cyberpsychology as a scientific area of study, and project its future directions at it continues to grow in the social and behavioral sciences.

PC Mike Podcast: 7 Ways Facebook is Bad for your Mental Health

PC Mike Podcast: 7 Ways Facebook is Bad for your Mental Health

Last year, Doug Kenrick and I wrote a piece for Psychology Today titled "7 Ways Facebook is Bad for your Mental Health." In PC Mike's (Mike Wendland, NBC reporter) recent podcast, we discuss the beneficial and detrimental impacts of Facebook use across social and psychological domains. The full podcast can be found here; our interview begins at approximately 13:45. Alternatively, click here for a direct link to the podcast via iTunes.

(Psychology Today) Science and the online dating profile

(Psychology Today) Science and the online dating profile

[Originally posted on Psychology Today; post coauthored with Doug Kenrick]

  • Do spelling mistakes annoy you?
  • Would you ever eat something out of the trash?
  • Do you think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved?
  • Do you like the taste of beer?
  • In a certain light, wouldn’t nuclear war be exciting?

At first glance, you might not think that spelling mistakes, eating trash, shaved legs, the taste of beer, or nuclear war would have much to do with finding true love.  But it turns out that your answers to these seemingly trivial questions could determine whether you end up attracting or repelling the object of your online romantic fantasies.

According to one online source, over 41 million Americans have tried to find a mate using an online dating service such as Match.com, eHarmony, or OKCupid.  Worldwide, the numbers are of course much higher.  OKCupid alone claims to have over 1 million visitors every day.

Driving, interrupted

Driving, interrupted

[embed]https://vimeo.com/122703761[/embed]

COPYRIGHT: Video, all content, all data; Jessica Bodford, March 19, 2015

Awarded Best Paper Presentation out of the Social Sciences, Health Sciences, and Mathematic and Natural Sciences.

#SPSP2015: Trends and observations

#SPSP2015: Trends and observations

Last week, I had the honor of attending the annual convention of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), the flagship international conference for novel social psychological research. Besides a beautiful conference-sponsored 5K during the sunrise and a trip to the world-famous Aquarium of the Pacific (pictures below), I had the chance to attend a series of symposia related to cyberpsychology that suggested an increasing trend toward the integration of social psychological research and technology.

Even if I weren't highly biased (which, let's face it, I am), this would be an exciting development in the name of STEM research and, more specifically, a rise in demand for interdisciplinary science.

"If Anonymous had a face": Inaccurate portrayals of Anonymous' identity

"If Anonymous had a face": Inaccurate portrayals of Anonymous' identity

A few weeks ago, Secure Thoughts posted an article in which they compiled the images of scores of identified hackers -- particularly those who have identified with the hacktivist group Anonymous in the past. Across both male and female hackers, the final composite image shows a young, White male: dark hair, non-descript facial features, strong jawbone...but nevertheless, a single identity purported to indicate the "average" Anonymous member affiliate.

[embed]http://securethoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ZLBSKlk.gif[/embed]

A few things must be noted.

Wait...so are we pro-Net Neutrality, or against it?

Wait...so are we pro-Net Neutrality, or against it?

Spoiler alert: My master's thesis revolves around the tender topic of Net Neutrality -- a topic that has remained a controversy since 2007. In 2008, I was tasked with writing a paper that, in as neutral (nudge nudge) a tone as possible, provided a background of this issue and a prognosis for its solution. Little did we know that such a solution would be at least seven years in the making.

In my thesis, I aim to manipulate participants' perceptions of the risks and payoffs involved in a hacking scenario...or more specifically, a call to hacktivism (e.g., Anonymous). The (entirely hypothetical and yet absolutely plausible) scenario provided? A rise to action against Net Neutrality.

Yet another breach of privacy in the digital age: Is there an upside?

Yet another breach of privacy in the digital age: Is there an upside?

Outside the few months during which Game of Thrones airs on HBO, I watch only a single T.V. show -- and not even a well-known one. While the rest of the world remains glued to ScandalParks & Recreation, and Orange is the New Black, I remain a resolute fan of Person of Interest. Each episode begins with the following monologue from Harold Finch (played by Michael Emerson), one of the world's most elite computer scientists:

"You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything: violent crimes involving ordinary people, people like you -- crimes the government considered 'irrelevant.' They wouldn't act, so I decided I would."

What was so novel about this premise was that, when it first aired in 2011, such an idea seemed impossible. For a "machine" loaded with the most sophisticated facial and voice recognition software imaginable to tap into each and every security camera on street corners, in shops, from cell phone microphones -- and then to use this information to track prospective perpetrators or victims of crime -- was an idea out of an Orwellian world. To simplify many elements at play here, we have the technology; we would need the faces, the voices, and the recognition of millions

The disconnect between self and other: Empathy, war, and newsgames

The disconnect between self and other: Empathy, war, and newsgames

An early facet of my research in graduate school revolved around "serious games", or the use of video game technology to convey a serious topic. Although my own foray into this area of work targeted the high drop-out rate among first-generation college students, there have been countless attempts among computer scientists and psychologists alike to intervene in matters of obesity, low self-esteem, anxiety, exercise, and other topics among game-loving populations (read: students). The degree to which these games feel immersive can depend on a number of factors that are directly relevant to our psychological evaluation of a situation while using technology. Melanie Green, for one, has developed a successful body of research on narrative transportation, or the loss of one's sense of surrounding while immersed in a fictional or alternative world. Such transportation may occur even in technologically removed situations (e.g., poor graphics, character mobility control).

The Google ad fallacy: Third parties own our data, but that isn't enough

The Google ad fallacy: Third parties own our data, but that isn't enough

If I'm on Google, Facebook, or any online news site plagued with sidebar ads, anyone could glance over my shoulder and tell you I'm a crazy cat lady. ...which I'm not. Usually.

But I will confess that I recently bought a cat stroller. Before you judge, please have faith in my sense of style that it was a reasonable, almost-but-not-quite baby stroller-looking contraption that would be less offensive when walking around the neighborhood than one might think.

To be honest, I never fully convinced myself that I wanted it. But Google decided that I did, and the next thing I knew, a UPS shipment was heading to Phoenix, Arizona.

Google is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it's free: free e-mail, free social network site (if non-Google employees actually use Google+), free search engine, free e-book and journal article collection, free news source, free shopping site, free collection of millions upon millions of images...and the list goes on. Google provides a plethora of services for absolutely no cost to us as users.

Interested in cyberpsychology? Give these films a try

Interested in cyberpsychology? Give these films a try

I'll be the first to say that I'm not the kind to sit for more than a five-minute video. If we're talking a ten-minute clip -- even if from the funniest show under the sun -- you will need to restrain me with force. I may have a soft spot for technology, but clearly television (and spin-offs such as Netflix, Hulu, and the like) just isn't my thang. Monday and Tuesday marked ASU's cute attempt at providing students with a fall break. (It's okay, the effort was appreciated.) Eye-rolls aside, it provided a great opportunity to work a little from home...and when I get tired of my desk, I tend to gravitate toward the (far comfier) couch.

Because a wealth of my cyber-attack-related research now addresses Anonymous and similar hacktivist groups, within the last week I stumbled across a documentary that sounded directly relevant to my interests: We are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (dir. Brian Knappenberger), which interviews the likes of Richard Thieme and (a personal favorite) Gabriella Coleman.

In Europe, "Innovation" Becomes "Invasion"

In Europe, "Innovation" Becomes "Invasion"

"By clicking Register, you agree with the website's Terms and Conditions."

Hands up if you recognize this one.

There was once a time when Terms and Conditions statements were short(ish) and linguistically accessible across a range of ages -- meaning that one did not have to be an IP attorney to understand the underlying meaning of a typical sentence.

Those days are long gone, and no one is in any doubt why: As technology has grown more sophisticated -- as the use of websites has evolved from brand recognition to data collection -- the rights we, as users, relinquish have grown exponentially with every new membership, account, or registration. Not only are our profile pictures saved to a third-party database, our likes and preferences shared with third-party vendors, and our browsing activity sold to e-commerce parties, but most users have no idea that this is even happening.

The Apple Watch: A new bionic race?

The Apple Watch: A new bionic race?

I wanted to take a quick moment to share a treasure I found while crawling Wired's 1994 archives:

Déjà vu, right? With this week's Apple Watch announcement, the world is abuzz with this concept of a new "bionic" race -- one in which humans are now linked (and, might I add, with a lovely array of magnetic and traditional clasp bands) to the devices already held so close from day to day. Is there much point in asking an audience to silence their cell phones when, even from the comfort of their pocket or purse, they receive the same updates from their wrist? Think of the ramifications in classrooms, meetings, cars, desk jobs, and movie theaters worldwide.

Before I go much further, I should note that as an Apple nerd, this post may be a bit biased. As much as I feel I should feel wary of, even threatened by, this solidified meaning of the word "attachment" in the digital age, I can't help but feel excited.