Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Effective vs Ethical

If you want to listen to a fascinating discussion about the research done at Facebook I suggest you check out the podcast linked below from the folks at Radiolab. They investigate the ethical concerns experiments done by Facebook pose: to what extent is it okay to test the effects of content found on your feed has on your mood? How would you feel about this, knowing that you might feel kind of blue lately due to hidden tinkerers on the other side of the globe? What if the same guys are trying to help you come to terms with your friends after some stupid argument? Mending relationships with crazy exes? The list goes on...

On one hand, the benefits behavioural science can reap from being able to run studies with tens of thousands of subjects are undoubtedly huge. On the other hand, should private companies be able to do so? If yes, should the subjects be warned in advance? If no, how can we ensure they don't do it? Perhaps by making the algorithms they use to tailor the content of your feeds open-source. But which company would agree to this anyways, when they effectively have a monopoly on text-based social media (see this slightly outdated infographic by Forbes: Facebook drives 20 times the traffic Twitter does)?

The Trust Engineers (Podcast by Radiolab)

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