Hey fellas, have you heard of this recently published Facebook experiment that allegedly “manipulated” its users’ emotions (yeah, that may have been you)?
The study, led by Facebook’s Core Data Science Team, omitted emotional posts from the newsfeed of random users for one straight week to see if the prevalence of one emotion (happy or sad) will affect the users’ posts. Indeed, those who read more happy content on their newsfeeds posted more words showing happiness and less words showing sadness, while those who were fed with more sad content also posted more sad updates.
So what’s the big deal? Well, some people got mad because Facebook did not ask for an informed consent from users. Ideally, all experiments are required by the World Medical Association and the American Psychological Association to obtain a signed consent from subjects and prior approval by a university ethics board.
But to defend the experiment, the researchers said, “[the method] was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research.”
But still, international standards require that subjects “be adequately informed of the aims, methods, sources of funding, any possible conflicts of interest, institutional affiliations of the researcher, the anticipated benefits and potential risks of the study and the discomfort it may entail.”
Legal stuff aside, we get where these academics/critics are coming from: Even if the study was legal, the slightest manipulation can cause a person to commit suicide. Case in point: The suicides of certain celebrities (e.g. Marilyn Monroe) have been associated with the “Werther effect,” where suicide rates significantly increase after celebrity suicides get publicized.
Okay, the suicide example was a bit too extreme, but you get the idea. Now here are other psychology studies that prove how people are so easily manipulated. Watch carefully to see how you can use them to your advantage (or you know, to net so easily duped)!
HOW TO GET INTO PEOPLE'S HEADS
Did you know than you can get people to feel, think, or do whatever you want them to? Check out how a clever group of researchers manipulated the thinking of professional artists below:
HOW TO MAKE PEOPLE CHOOSE YOU
We all know that first impressions last, especially in job-hunting—dress appropriately, be polite, smile—but aside from character traits, the principle also extends to other aspects, like physical appearance. Studies show that attractive or tall people earn more, get promoted faster, and have an easier time job-hunting. It’s called the “Halo effect” or when people (e.g. interviewers and managers) automatically assume that a desirable trait (e.g. tallness or attractiveness) necessarily comes with other positive traits (e.g. kindness, trustworthiness, leadership).