Controversial Facebook Research Shows They Can Manipulate Your Feed to Make You Sadder or Happier

controversial facebook research studyRecently news of a controversial Facebook research study came out, and it upset many people. For the study, researchers had manipulated people’s Facebook feeds to show them either more happy stories or more sad stories, and then measured how that manipulation affected the types of posts and posting frequency of the affected individuals. In short, they found that, yes: when a person’s Facebook feed is sadder, that person tends to post less frequently, and what they post is of a darker and more gloomy nature. When the feed is happier, people post happier things. The researchers call this “emotional contagion” and it is an interesting finding, to be sure.

But is this ethical? Some 700,000 Facebook feeds were manipulated, and many people are concerned because they argue that Facebook’s privacy and data permissions do not allow for this level of manipulation. Facebook may have made some people marginally happier during the experiment, which is hard to complain about, but what about all of the people they intentionally saddened? For people suffering from depression or anxiety, being experimented upon without consent in a manner that puts them at risk for being intentionally saddened definitely seems problematic. And while the findings from this experiment are interesting, and have many potential applications, it’s difficult to rely on research data that has been obtained in a questionable or non-standard manner.

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Controversial Facebook Research Shows They Can Manipulate Your Feed to Make You Sadder or Happier

Recently news of a controversial Facebook research study came out, and it upset many people. For the study, researchers had manipulated people’s Facebook feeds to show them either more happy stories or more sad stories, and then measured how that manipulation affected the types of posts and posting frequency of the affected individuals. In short, […]

Why Does Brain Speed Matter, and What Can I Do to Improve It?

I just saw an article in Scientific American about why brain speed is important, how it decays as we age, and what the effects are on daily life over time. But this is nothing new: we have been talking about brain speed for years! These are some highlights from the article: “Studies suggest that the […]

Brain Science Podcast: Dr. Merzenich Talks with Ginger Campbell About Brain Plasticity

We are big fans of Ginger Campbell, MD’s Brain Science Podcast series – she features fascinating neuroscience luminaries in her in-depth, hour-long interviews, including Norman Doidge, Jeff Hawkins, Sharon Begley, Edward Taub, and many more. Learn more and listen now >>> Brain Science Podcast: Dr. Merzenich Talks with Ginger Campbell About Brain Plasticity Posit Science […]

Landmark Study Shows Benefits of BrainHQ Training Last 10 Years

I am incredibly excited to announce that the scientists who ran the ACTIVE trial have reported that certain types of brain training—including one of the exercises in BrainHQ from Posit Science—can drive cognitive benefits that last 10 years. The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is the first to show such […]

Happy 100th Birthday to the Crossword Puzzle

It’s time to say happy birthday to our beloved crossword puzzle! The first one was published 100 years ago. In this short video about the crossword’s centennial, Mo Rocca interviews New York Times puzzle writer Will Shortz and Dan Feyer, four-time champion of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and the best solver in the country. […]

Kids Who Watch TV Have Bigger Brains – But Not in a Good Way

A recent study from Japan found that children who watch TV a lot have more gray matter than kids who don’t watch TV. But, the researchers warn, that is not necessarily a good thing. The study looked at brain scans of kids between the ages of 5 and 18 and found that the more TV […]

More Evidence that Music Lessons May Strengthen the Brain

A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience has found that people who have learned to play music–at any point in life, including young childhood–enjoy brain benefits that last a lifetime. Specifically, people who have studied music exhibit strengthened brain connections that can positively impact language abilities. According to lead researcher Dr. Nina Kraus […]

This is What Happens in your Brain When You’re Scared Senseless

Do you love or hate scary movies? Are you the first to line up for a haunted house, or do you stay as far away as possible? I often wonder why some people love scary stories and situations, when I just find them, well, scary. This excellent video from the American Chemical Society explains why […]

Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change your Life

I’m excited to announce that my brand new book Soft-Wired is now out and available in paperback or Kindle format. This book was a labor of love, and it took me many years and many iterations to say exactly what I wanted, how I wanted to say it. The result is a book that covers […]

How You Can Make Your Brain Smarter Every Day

If you’re old enough, you may remember a time, maybe back in your childhood, when someone measured your intelligence and assigned a number to it. I suspect that you have been either proud of that “IQ,” or perhaps a little bit chagrined about it, from that day to this. The general belief back then was that intelligence was a genetic endowment, along with eye color or a propensity for baldness.

We now know this is simply not true. Your brain — every brain — is a work in progress. It is “plastic.” From the day we’re born to the day we die, it continuously revises and remodels, improving or slowly declining, as a function of how we use it. If a brain is exercised properly, anyone can grow intelligence, at any age, and potentially by a lot. Or you can just let your brain idle — and watch it slowly, inexorably, go to seed like a sedentary body.