Tag Archives: ethics

Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change

The big thing on my mind right now is preparing for my presentation at SXSW next Saturday. My J&J colleague and pal Raphaela O’Day and I are going to be discussing “Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change,” and how we grapple with them as psychologists who design and create interventions to improve health and healthcare.
Continue reading Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change

So, Does Facebook Influence Users or Not? (Yes, It Does)

so-does-facebook-influence-users-or-notTwo days after the election, Mark Zuckerberg said the following at a meeting in California:

“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.

For those of us who’ve spent any time on Facebook in the last 18 months and who’ve tried to engage in conversations with people whose political arguments include conspiracy theories, Zuckerberg’s comment was a record-scratch moment. Continue reading So, Does Facebook Influence Users or Not? (Yes, It Does)

How Much Can We Personalize Job Rewards Without Being Unfair?

How Much Can We Personalize Job Rewards Without Being Unfair-I recently read the book The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael D. Watkins. It was recommended to me as a good guide to starting a new position, and while I admired the structured analytical eye the author takes to understand work challenges, I felt it was lacking in an understanding of human behavior. One key area where the advice particularly seemed to deal with people (in this case, the people reporting to a new manager) as theoretical versus human entities was compensation for performance. Continue reading How Much Can We Personalize Job Rewards Without Being Unfair?

Knocked to the Bottom of the Pyramid

Knocked to the Bottom of the PyramidI had big plans this week. I was going to log some major running miles, get ahead of my blog posting, run all manner of errands, and possibly try my hand at a cake NPR warned was a “pain in the butt” to make (a glance at the recipe suggests no one at NPR has ever baked before). None of this happened.

Instead of carrying out these grand plans, I picked up an unpleasant cold. My most impressive accomplishment this week was a four hour nap (it was glorious). I didn’t get my Monday long run in. By today, Wednesday, I’d decided to just focus on feeling better and altered my to-do list accordingly. Continue reading Knocked to the Bottom of the Pyramid

When Is a Reward Coercion? The Case of Workplace Wellness Programs

When Is A RewardGiven my former line of business working on digital wellness programs for employees and health plan members, I’ve tended to have a positive spin on the trend of including these types of programs in the benefits package. While I am not a big fan of financial incentives for health behaviors because they might re-wire motivation, I didn’t necessarily see them as morally ambiguous. That is, I didn’t necessarily see them as morally ambiguous until I read an article that helped me draw a parallel between rewarding wellness programs and research ethics. Continue reading When Is a Reward Coercion? The Case of Workplace Wellness Programs

Facebook announces new research guidelines

Facebook announces newThree months after inciting the ire of researchers and users with their stealth emotional manipulation study, Facebook has announced a revised research policy. The new policy addresses four key areas:

  • Clearer guidelines for researchers
  • An additional layer of review
  • Enhanced training for new Facebook employees around research
  • Increased transparency via a page compiling all Facebook research

Continue reading Facebook announces new research guidelines

Facebook’s Informed Consent Problem

FACEBOOK'S INFORMED CONSENT ISSUEYou’ve undoubtedly heard by now about Facebook’s large scale emotion manipulation study, conducted on their site users. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, found that when Facebook users saw a greater concentration of negative posts in their newsfeed, they were more likely to post negative statuses themselves; the same pattern emerged for positive status updates. [This research probably also partially explains Facebook’s insistence on pushing the Top Stories sort on users regardless of their preference; it’s the manipulation in a massive social science study. Which doesn’t make it any less of a violation of users’ sense of autonomy, and thus a poor motivational experience.]

The study has its problems, which I’ll get into, but the thing that really makes me angry about it is the cavalier attitude it reveals toward informed consent. Informed consent is a requirement of human subjects research. What is means is that if a person is being manipulated in any way, they must give explicit permission to the researcher to be a part of the study. The informed piece is important: Continue reading Facebook’s Informed Consent Problem