Academic Work

Investigating the Biological Mechanisms of Online Donation Behavior 

Collaborators: Dr. Vinod Venkatraman and Elizabeth C. Beard

Since I started my doctoral program five years ago, I began thinking about the overarching theme of what makes people good. How can we get people to care about the general welfare of others? How can we help solve world problems we have resources to solve?

These are complicated questions, and this dissertation work is an attempt to begin thinking about this question more broadly.  I am hoping to dive deeper into the biological mechanisms of donation behavior, specifically, what types of online social posts cause people to act. Here, I ran three studies that manipulated the following elements of Instagram posts in a 3 x 2 x 2 design to look at the features of posts that influence the decision to donate online:

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Our results found the following. The analyses were visualized and scripted in SPSS with some visualization aspects in Canva and Python using Jupyter Notebook.

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Finding 1: People donate the most to negatively-valenced posts.

This is in line with some of the work done by Dr. Deborah Small in 2009. Our studies show that this effect replicates in online contexts as well as in different sample types.

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Finding 2: Other, more peripheral facets of social media (e.g., other than the main image), such as the number of likes have an inconsistent influence on the decision to donate.

Commentary on New Media, Technology, and Public Opinion

I also have a general curiosity about new technologies and public opinion. I have written papers about the affordances of reddit, the 2016 election, wearable technologies, and feminist practices. My favorite piece, and one that I am most proud of, is published in the journal Convergence. 

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Viewing Neural Mechanisms of Ad Viewing and Recognition Over Time

Collaborators: Dr. Vinod Venkatraman and Elizabeth C. Beard

This project views an fMRI dataset sponsored by the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, where participants viewed advertisements in the lab then came back a week later to undergo a brain scan to determine what types of advertisements they remembered. Our findings indicate that the context of the advertisement (e.g., whether the advertisement is metaphorical, functional, or emotional) influences brand and ad recognition when people are shown the advertisement later in time (1 week).

Since this project is in press, I won’t share the data publicly yet, but am happy to review the data or send our results to interested parties. Feel free to get in touch if you are interested.