Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Too Real, or Too Fake?

Female Instagram Influencers in ‘Authenticity Bind’

 

 ITHACA, N.Y. – Female Instagram influencers – whose livelihoods depend on their ability to build and maintain a prominent social media following – endure criticism and harassment both for being too real and for seeming too fake, according to a new study from Cornell University. 

This leaves women on Instagram caught in an “authenticity bind” – the nature of social media compels them to share details from their personal lives, but these details make them vulnerable to abuse or charges that they’ve ‘curated’ or faked their online personas.
“Across social networks, content creators are compelled to be authentic and ‘real’ but in ways that are quite narrowly defined,”said Brooke Erin Duffy, assistant professor of communication and co-author of the study. “If they’re deemed too real, if they express inner thoughts that seem too personal or intimate, they may face criticism. But if they aren’t considered real enough, if audiences view them as highly curated or excessively performative, or so aspirational that they are unrelatable, they experience blowback. Essentially a woman on social media, especially one with a large following, can’t win.”

Research has found harassment on Instagram can be common, particularly among those with a significant social media presence. And abuse is more prevalent – and potentially more harmful – for women and people from marginalized communities.
Yet few controls and restrictions exist on Instagram, leaving harassment victims particularly helpless when the success of their businesses depends on social media prominence, Duffy said.
For the study, Duffy and co-author Emily Hund of the University of Pennsylvania interviewed 25 professional or aspiring female Instagrammers in the areas of fashion, beauty and lifestyle. They found the women tended to censor themselves in anticipation of criticism.
Women also said they noticed viewers were more engaged with posts confiding personal or private information about their lives, but they also said they felt reluctant to share anything “that’s not elevated and inspirational/aspirational.”

Duffy said she hopes the study calls attention to the lack of safeguards for female Instagram influencers, whose challenges are often disdained by a skeptical public.
The study, “Gendered Visibility on Social Media: Navigating Instagram’s Authenticity Bind,” was published in the International Journal of Communication.
For more information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.
Cornell University has dedicated television and audio studios available for media interviews supporting full HD, ISDN and web-based platforms.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Does Crime Really Rise During a Full Moon?

      

Photo by Thomas Brenac

 

 

 


 

New York University researchers looked into it, just in time for Halloween. 



Just in time for Halloween, the BetaGov team at NYU's Marron Institute of Urban Management is releasing a three-country study on the "lunar effect."

Betagov, which carries out randomized controlled trials for, and collaborates with, stakeholders in the field, looked into the purported relationship between crime and the full moon. The investigation resulted from a conversation with a police official in Vallejo, CA, and an article on the phenomenon he pointed out from Australia.

To start out, BetaGov researchers conducted a review of the overall research literature on the "lunar effect," which, surprisingly, is mixed. Some studies have found evidence of a lunar effect on crime and negative behavior, and others show none at all.

The Vallejo police official, meanwhile, pulled together his agency's crime data from January 2014 through May 2018. He researched phases of the moon for each crime event, and sent BetaGov his data for analysis. According to the analysis, the data demonstrated that there's no association between crime events and full moon. In Vallejo, California, at least, people don't commit more crimes when there is a full moon.

Other police departments heard about this analysis and were curious whether there was evidence for the lunar hypothesis in their own data. To make sure North America was represented, BetaGov teed up replication studies with the Barrie (Ontario) Police Service in Canada and the Irapuato Citizen Safety Secretariat in Mexico. The team merged moon-phase data into their calls-for-service and crime data.

What was found? Again, nothing.

"Although these kinds of analyses are fun, the findings have practical implications for policing such as in developing staffing assignments and distribution of other law-enforcement resources. The bottom line is be vigilant in questioning your assumptions and use your data to explore. It might just surprise you," said BetaGov director Angela Hawken (PhD), a professor of public policy at the NYU Marron Institute.

To see the individual research briefs, or to speak with Dr. Hawken, please contact NYU public affairs officer Robert Polner at robert.polner(at)nyu.edu .


ABOUT BETAGOV: Our team includes psychologists, economists, policy experts, clinical researchers, statisticians, and consultants with decades of experience planning and conducting randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and collaborating with stakeholders in the field. Supported initially by funding from Give Well and Good Ventures, and by subsequent funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Smith Richardson Foundation, our services are provided at no cost. Visit http://betagov.org/index.html



Friday, November 8, 2019

The Iceman

Credit: Dickson et al, 2019

FrozeBuried alongside the famous Ötzi the Iceman are at least 75 species of bryophytes – mosses and liverworts – which hold clues to Ötzi’s surroundings, according to a study released October 30, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by James Dickson of the University of Glasgow, UK and colleagues at the University of Innsbruck. 


Ötzi the Iceman is a remarkable 5,300-year-old human specimen found frozen in ice approximately 3,200 meters above sea level in the Italian Alps. He was frozen alongside his clothing and gear as well as an abundant assemblage of plants and fungi. In this study, Dickson and colleagues aimed to identify the mosses and liverworts preserved alongside the Iceman.

Today, 23 bryophyte species live the area near where Ötzi was found, but inside the ice the researchers identified thousands of preserved bryophyte fragments representing at least 75 species. It is the only site of such high altitude with bryophytes preserved over thousands of years. Notably, the assemblage includes a variety of mosses ranging from low-elevation to high-elevation species, as well as 10 species of liverworts, which are very rarely preserved in archaeological sites. Only 30% of the identified bryophytes appear to have been local species, with the rest having been transported to the spot in Ötzi’s gut or clothing or by large mammalian herbivores whose droppings ended up frozen alongside the Iceman.

From these remains, the researchers infer that the bryophyte community in the Alps around 5,000 years ago was generally similar to that of today. Furthermore, the non-local species help to confirm the path Ötzi took to his final resting place. Several of the identified moss species thrive today in the lower Schnalstal valley, suggesting that Ötzi traveled along the valley during his ascent. This conclusion is corroborated by previous pollen research, which also pinpointed Schnalstal as the Iceman’s likely route of ascent.

Dickson adds, “Most members of the public are unlikely to be knowledgeable about bryophytes (mosses and liverworts). However, no fewer than 75 species of these important investigative clues were found when the Iceman (aka Ötzi) was removed from the ice. They were recovered as mostly small scraps from the ice around him, from his clothes and gear, and even from his alimentary tract. Those findings prompted the questions: Where did the fragments come from? How precisely did they get there? How do they help our understanding of the Iceman?”