New Study Finds Online Chat Boosts Lying and Email Has the Most Lies

Newswise — AMHERST, Mass. – A new study by University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers finds that communication using computers for instant messaging and e-mail increases lying compared to face-to-face conversations, and that e-mail messages are most likely to contain lies. The findings, by Robert S. Feldman, professor of psychology and dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Mattityahu Zimbler, a graduate student, are published in the October issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

The research paper, titled “Liar, Liar, Hard Drive on Fire: How Media Context Affects Lying Behavior,” looked at 110 same-sex pairs of college students who engaged in 15 minute conversations either face-to-face, using e-mail, or using instant messaging. The results were then analyzed for inaccuracies.

What Feldman and Zimbler found was that while there is some degree of deception present in all three forms of communication, it was increased in both instant messaging and e-mail, with e-mail messages the most likely to contain lies. Underlying this was the concept of deindividualization, where as people grow psychologically and physically further from the person they are in communication with, there is a higher likelihood of lying, they say.

In addition to the distance one person is from the other, e-mail communication has the added component of being asynchronous, not as connected in real time as instant messaging or face-to-face conversation. Feldman and Zimbler conclude, “It seems likely that the asynchronicity of e-mail makes the users feel even more disconnected from the respondent in that a reply to their queries is not expected immediately, but rather is delayed until some future point in time.”

“Ultimately, the findings show how easy it is to lie when online, and that we are more likely to be the recipient of deceptive statements in online communication than when interacting with others face-to-face,” says Feldman.

“In exploring the practical implications of this research, the results indicate that the Internet allows people to feel more free, psychologically speaking, to use deception, at least when meeting new people,” Feldman and Zimbler say. “Given the public attention to incidents of Internet predation, this research suggests that the deindividualization created by communicating from behind a computer screen may facilitate the process of portraying a disingenuous self.”

Feldman, who has been the dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst since 2009, is an expert on lying and author of the book “The Liar in Your Life,” published in 2009.

He is a frequent commentator in the media on issues related to lying. Feldman joined the faculty of the UMass Amherst psychology department in 1977 after teaching for three years at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has been a visiting professor at Mount Holyoke College and Wesleyan University and was a Fulbright lecturer and research scholar at Ewha University in Seoul, South Korea in 1977.

Released: 11/15/2011 1:00 PM EST
Source: University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Dangerous Mobile Phone Usage Tied to OCD Traits

Cell-phone use in dangerous situations, such as while driving, may be attributed to obsessive-compulsive disorder traits rather than addiction.

Newswise — FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Information researchers at the University of Arkansas have found evidence that suggests dangerous mobile phone usage while driving may be attributed to obsessive-compulsive disorder traits rather than addiction. The findings have significant policy implications because most legislation prohibiting mobile phone usage while driving – which generally has failed – has relied on research that links dangerous and excessive usage to addictive traits.

“Despite evidence that addiction might drive some excessive and dangerous mobile phone usage, that model explains only part of the phenomenon,” said Moez Limayem, professor and associate dean for research and graduate programs in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. “Our study shows that another potential driver of such behaviors may relate more closely to obsessive-compulsive disorders than addictions. This is important because behavioral interventions to treat OCD and addictions differ fundamentally, and the possibility that mobile phone usage is a compulsion rather than an addiction may suggest more effective legislative interventions and prevention tactics.”

In 2010, the National Safety Council estimated that the cause of approximately 28 percent of all vehicle accidents – a total of 1.6 million annually – could be attributed to mobile phone usage. Recent legislation, based on addiction or dependence models of treatment, has banned usage while driving or attempted to discourage dangerous and inappropriate usage by punishing drivers caught in the act. Yet, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute, mobile-phone-related accidents have actually increased in many areas since the passage of these laws. Despite these health and legal risks, people appear likely to continue using mobile phones while driving.

Through an online survey website, Limayem and a doctoral student, Zach Steelman, collected data from 451 men and women of various age groups and locations. The survey did not restrict the sample pool by demographics but did require that all respondents own a cell phone. Internet provider addresses and email addresses were traced to eliminate multiple responses. The average age of participants was 28, and two-thirds (66.3 percent) of the respondents were men. Of all participants, 80 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher, 75 percent were employed and 57 percent were single. More than half – 57.6 percent – of the participants used a smartphone.

The researchers measured types of usage by developing questions grouped into three scales or categories: general mobile phone usage, compulsive mobile phone usage and dangerous mobile phone usage. Within these categories, participants were asked basic questions, such as:
— I answer calls/emails/text messages while driving.
— I make calls and send emails and text messages while driving.
— I browse the Internet while driving.
— I check social network applications while driving.
Among other questions, the respondents were asked how many years they had owned a cell phone, and how many hours they spent per day talking, emailing and texting on their phone.

Consistent with studies on obsessive-compulsive disorder, Limayem and Steelman made several predictions related to behavior and mobile phone usage. First, however, they discussed the cultural impact of cell phones, specifically how they have blurred boundaries between work and family, and how users have allowed the devices to alter their perceived responsibility toward both. They theorized that this perceived increase in responsibility would have a greater impact on compulsive mobile phone usage. In other words, because people now have a tool that allows them to receive work messages at home and family messages at work, they perceive the importance of each as greater. This perception, in turn, increases compulsive checking.

The findings confirmed these predictions. Perceived work demand and perceived family demand were significant predictors of individually perceived – and inflated – responsibilities. This perceived increase in responsibility had a positive impact on compulsive usage. Ultimately Limayem and Steelman found a significant link between compulsive usage and dangerous usage.

“Evidence of compulsive behavior brings to light the notion that the underlying motivation to use a mobile phone is not pleasure, as predicted by addictions studies, but rather a response to heightened stress and anxiety,” Limayem said.

Not surprisingly, the findings showed that the most significant predictor of dangerous mobile phone usage was answering text messages while driving. Incoming alerts triggered dangerous usage. Conversely, initiating text messages was not a significant factor.

“Dangerous usage thus appears to represent a reaction to incoming alerts, not a need to initiate more conversations, as predicted by an addiction model,” Limayem said.

They emphasized that legislative bans on excessive and dangerous mobile phone usage likely will have no impact on users who exhibit obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Adjusting perceived responsibility levels to match a more realistic view of reality – that is, convincing people of the potential cost versus small benefit or responding instantly – could mitigate compulsive use and decrease the number of vehicle accidents, Limayem said.

But achieving this might be difficult. Limayem suggested that public-service announcements and other similar informative interventions might be more successful measures than punitive actions. From a purely technological perspective, creating different ring tones or alerts corresponding to different “networks” (work, family, friends) or importance levels could alter stimuli produced by mobile phones and thus reduce compulsive use.

Limayem is holder of the Edwin and Karlee Bradberry Chair in Information Systems.

Released: 9/12/2011
Source: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Via Newswise

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Tips on Using Social Media During a Natural Disaster

Smartphone and Social Media

Newswise — Last week’s earthquake on the East Coast was a preview of what to expect when Hurricane Irene approaches this weekend. Many people could not use their cell phones or land lines and had to rely on Twitter and Facebook to communicate. The immediate transfer of information that social networks provides becomes even more important during a natural disaster.

According to Jennifer Regina, a Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.) adjunct professor of marketing and CEO of The Marketing of Everything, Washington Township, N.J., “The best thing to do is also have an action plan in place for communicating with your loved ones during a natural disaster.”

She suggests:

• Have an agreed-upon plan of communicating. Make sure your family knows if you are going to be tweeting your condition or will be communicating via texting or Facebook.

• Make sure you have your communication devices fully charged. Charge your laptop and cell phone to their full capacity every night. Even consider purchasing an extended or backup battery for your devices.

• Pay attention to government and news agencies’ social media posts. Subscribe to their posts so they will be sent directly to your phone via text. Many state and local agencies are aggressively using their social media profiles to communicate quickly about disasters. Already hurricane evacuation information is spreading quickly through Twitter.

• Establish agreed-upon times for your loved ones to post updates. For example, every hour update your health or the status of your location. Social networks also can be used to warn others of impending disasters. Many in New York City saw tweets from their friends in Washington, D.C. about an earthquake and seconds later felt it themselves. Many people stay glued to social networks to see how others are handling storms that are approaching and gleaning valuable tips.

“This weekend’s hurricane will be another example of how social media networks will help families communicate and governments issue warnings and updates,” Regina said.

Released: 8/25/2011
Source: Rowan University

Via Newswise

Related Link: http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/580022/

Dealing with the Cyberworld’s Dark Side; Psychologists Examine Disturbing Trends, Offer Tips on Coping

Newswise — WASHINGTON – People who are cyberstalked or harassed online experience higher levels of stress and trauma than people who are stalked or harassed in person, according to a presentation at the American Psychological Association’s 119th Annual Convention.

“Increasingly, stalkers use modern technology to monitor and torment their victims, and one in four victims report some form of cyberstalking, such as threatening emails or instant messaging,” said Elizabeth Carll, PhD, in a talk entitled, “Electronic Harassment and Cyberstalking: Intervention, Prevention and Public Policy.”

Emotional responses to the stress and trauma experienced by victims may include high levels of ongoing stress, anxiety, fear, nightmares, shock and disbelief, helplessness, hyper-vigilance, changes in eating, and sleeping difficulties, Carll said.

“It is my observation that the symptoms related to cyberstalking and e-harassment may be more intense than in-person harassment, as the impact is more devastating due to the 24/7 nature of online communication, inability to escape to a safe place, and global access of the information,” Carll said.

U.S. Department of Justice statistics reveal that some 850,000 adults, the majority female, are targets of cyberstalking each year, according to Carll. Citing various other sources, she gave examples of the pervasiveness, including:
• 40 percent of women have experienced dating violence via social media, which can include harassing text messages and disturbing information about them posted on social media sites.
• 20 percent of online stalkers use social networking to stalk their victims.
• 34 percent of female college students and 14 percent of male students have broken into a romantic partner’s email.

“The same technologies used to harass can also be used to intervene and prevent harassment,” she said, adding that some states are considering mandating the use of GPS tracking devices on offenders to allow victims to keep tabs on them.

“Imagine a cell phone application that can tell you if someone threatening you is nearby,” Carll said. “That could be life-saving.”

Law enforcement, legal assistance and other social service providers need training to use direct and electronic methods to intervene and prevent electronic harassment, and victims need training in the safe use of technology, she said.

In another session Friday, researchers released results of a study that found 36 percent of students had been cyberbullied at least once in the past year.

Researchers examined data collected in 2009 from 1,112 students, ages 12 to 19, 405 female, from schools in Seoul and the Keonggi area of South Korea. Of these, 225 were in elementary school, 678 in middle school and 209 in high school. The students completed a questionnaire about their cyberbullying experiences, self-esteem and how they regulate their emotions.

“The results revealed that cyberbullying makes students socially anxious, lonely, frustrated, sad and helpless,” said presenter YeoJu Chung, PhD, of South Korea’s Kyungil University.

The research explored how adolescents emotionally deal with cyberbullying. Students who said they ruminated, or obsessed, about the negative event were more likely to suffer serious stress from cyberbullying. In addition, people who blamed themselves for the situation were more likely to ruminate. Students who refocused on positive thoughts were able to cope and recover more quickly, according to the study.

Students reported that they were more negatively affected by cyberbullying when it was anonymous and in “one-sided sites such as blogs and cyber boards.” The research also showed that students who are victims of cyberbullying will often subsequently bully others online.

“Lots of adolescents have trouble recovering from negative effects of cyberbullying,” said Chung. “We can help them use emotion regulation skills to recover, rather than become bullies themselves.”

Released: 7/28/2011   Source: American Psychological Association (APA)

Via Newswise

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http://newswise.com/articles/dealing-with-the-cyberworld-s-dark-side

Are Restaurant Plates a Source of Viral Infections? Food Safety Expert Shares Latest Research, Tips on Keeping Kitchenware Germ-Free

Newswise — Columbus, OH – Dr. Melvin Pascall, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at The Ohio State University, has spent the past 15 years working to improve food safety in areas ranging from packaging to food service cleaning practices. His research has been cited by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and he has helped create national food industry dishware cleaning guidelines. He is currently conducting research to determine if the existing guidelines are enough to keep the public safe from cross contamination. However, with 20 million cases of acute gastroenteritis and 128,000 hospitalizations a year attributed to food-borne illness, Pascall is continually looking for ways to improve the system.

“While there are dishware cleaning guidelines, there are no actual laws that mandate food service businesses must use them. We know that when public food establishments follow the cleaning protocols, they do a very good job at getting rid of bacteria,” says Pascall. “But, we don’t know if those protocols work to kill viruses – and this may help explain why there are still so many illnesses caused by contaminated food.”

In 2010, Pascall was awarded with a grant from the Ohio State Center Clinical and Translational Science to test how effectively the current government standards, which are proven to sanitize against bacteria, are able to rid dishes and silverware of viruses. Pascall theorized that viruses could be a bigger health issue, because it only takes a small number of viruses to make a person sick and many viruses could withstand the high temperatures used in commercial dishwashing protocols.

Working with a team of virologists, Pascall set out to test the ability of common viruses – norovirus and sapovirus – to make it through a variety of “real life” food service cleaning scenarios. Norovirus is responsible for 90% of epidemic non- bacterial cases of gastroenteritis and is commonly associated with illnesses seen on cruise ships and other “closed communities” where the virus can spread easily. Building off these research results, which are currently being compiled, the team will next investigate if Hepatitis A and the avian flu virus are able to get past current washing and sanitization protocols.

“I think we’ll find that the current use of heat and chlorine based detergents are able to protect against some viruses, but we may need to bring forward new technologies or new protocols to kill other types of viruses,” says Pascall. He also offers the following tips to help consumers reduce their chances of picking up a foodborne illness at home or while eating out:
EATING OUT:
• If you find lipstick on a glass, definitely ask for a new glass, but if you’ve already taken a sip, don’t be too worried that you’ve picked up something. Most lipsticks already contain an antibacterial ingredient.
• Forks are the hardest utensils to clean because of the tines, so always check a fork before you use it. High fat foods are the most difficult to get off, especially raw and fried eggs.
• Never eat from a dish or plate that has a crack in it. Cracked dishes can harbor bacteria.
• Some states require the certificate of inspection to be in plain sight, you may want to pass an establishment that has had any health inspection issues.

EATING IN: Most dishwashers have several built in sanitizing steps, but if you wash dishes by hand the three critical “Ts” to remember are time, temperature, and towel dry.
• TIME: When washing dishes by hand, wash and rinse immediately to reduce the amount of bacteria that grows on the dish. And take the time to make sure all visible food particles are gone.
• TEMPERATURE: wash in hottest water possible to kill bacteria and wash away foods that bacteria can grow on.
• TOWEL DRY: dry immediately using a clean fabric or disposable paper towel (best) to prevent airborne bacteria from sticking.

Dr. Pascall is currently working on other food safety research topics, including an evaluation of electrolyzed water technologies as well as a review of how different materials used in common kitchenware can either promote or inhibit bacterial growth. Dr. Pascall has published extensively in peer reviewed journals and is a regular contributor to the Conference for Food Protection.

Released: 7/8/2011
Source: Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science

Via Newswise

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U.S. Independence Day Celebration: Why It’s Best To Leave The July Fourth Fireworks Displays To The Experts

Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. – July 4th is nearing and emergency departments across the state are already beginning to treat patients injured by fireworks.

In 2010, 135 people in Illinois suffered injuries caused by fireworks, according to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshall. Across the country, seven people died and about 7,000 people were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control.

“Fireworks are basically explosives and are all capable of causing severe injuries, but even minor injuries can cause significant functional disability when it comes to sight and hand function,” said trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Esposito or Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.

Fireworks are not toys, Esposito added. Even those that are considered legal are dangerous. They burn at approximately the same temperature as a household match. Also, fireworks can cause burn injuries and ignite clothing if used improperly.

“Even fireworks that are classified as ‘safer,’ such as bottle rockets and sparklers, are responsible for some of the most serious wounds treated by emergency physicians,” said Esposito, who is also a professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood.

Here are some tips to help keep safe while celebrating Independence Day:

• If you choose to use legal fireworks, carefully read and follow all directions on the packaging.

• Plan safe activities for children. Give them glow-in-the-dark wands and noisemakers as substitutes for sparklers and firecrackers.

• Teach children about the dangers of fireworks and other explosives. Discourage them from trying them and set a good example by never using fireworks yourself.

• If you find explosive substances around your home, call the local fire department’s non-emergency line for disposal guidelines. Do not dispose of them or explode them yourself. Too many unknown factors like age, moisture levels and amount of explosive material make them dangerous and unpredictable.

• Never underestimate the inventiveness of children who sometimes try to concoct homemade devices. Keep potentially hazardous materials like lighter fluid, charcoal lighter and gasoline out of their reach.

• Never approach a firework after it has been lit, even if it appears to have gone out. It is likely to still be excessively hot and it may explode unexpectedly.

• Consider safe alternatives for celebrations. Check the newspapers for community fireworks displays handled by professionals or hold a celebration at home where you can supervise your children’s holiday festivities.

• If an injury occurs, call 911 or the local emergency phone number. Get immediate medical aid from experts who specialize in treating burns and other traumatic injuries.

Released: 6/21/2011
Source: Loyola University Health System

Via NEWSWISE

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Beach and Pool Safety, Families Planning Water Activities this Summer, but a Third Lack Good Swimming Skills

New American Red Cross survey reinforces need for water safety as nearly 80 percent of Americans plan to engage in water-related activities this summer.

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — More than a third of people planning to swim, boat or fish this summer cannot swim well, according to a new national survey by the American Red Cross.

Nearly 8 in 10 households (78 percent) are planning at least one water-related recreational activity this summer such as swimming, boating and fishing. However, 37 percent described their swimming skills as fair, lacking or nonexistent – including 13 percent unable to swim at all, the Red Cross survey found.

“Learning how to swim and maintaining constant supervision of those in or near the water are crucial elements of water safety,” said Dr. Peter Wernicki, chair, Aquatics Subcommittee of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. “This Memorial Day, as we head into the summer season, we urge families to make water safety a priority.”

Sadly, each year drownings occur, yet many could have been prevented:

  • One-third of the survey respondents (32 percent) mistakenly believe that having a small child wear a flotation device is safer than providing arm’s-reach supervision.
  • One in five (20 percent) of adults are unsure what to do if they are caught in a strong current.
  • Nearly two in five (38 percent) recalled an experience in which someone in deep water needed help.

The Red Cross recommends designating at least one adult to solely be responsible for watching those in and around the water – even if a lifeguard is present. Adults should be in the water with inexperienced swimmers and remain within arm’s reach of them.

This “arm’s-reach supervision” is safer than putting water wings or floaties on a small child, as these items are not designed to keep a child’s face out of the water and can leak, slip off and provide a false sense of security.

Children should not go near or enter the water without the permission and supervision of an adult. Those who own a home pool should secure it with appropriate barriers and install pool and gate alarms.

If caught in a rip current, people should swim parallel to shore until they are out of the current and they can safely make it to shore. However, 32 percent said they weren’t confident that they could actually do it.

Most adults – 80 percent – knew that throwing a rope or something that floats would be the best way to help someone struggling in deep water rather than going in after them.

Red Cross Aquatics Training

The Red Cross has been a leader in aquatics training for more than 95 years and has developed a comprehensive program starting with Parent and Child Aquatics (6 months to about 5 years old) through lessons for adults. Participants learn swimming skills with a strong emphasis on drowning prevention and water safety.

Water safety tips and information can be found on redcross.org, and people can contact their local Red Cross to find out where Learn-to-Swim programs are offered.

For those who own pools and hot tubs, the Red Cross has a Home Pool Essentials™: Maintenance and Safety online safety course that teaches the fundamentals of creating and maintaining a safe environment.

The Red Cross is also part of the planned 2011 World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on Tuesday, June 14, at 11:00 a.m. EDT at waterparks, community pools and aquatic facilities around the globe. At many locations, there is no cost to participate in this event, and more details can be found at www.worldslargestswimminglesson.org.

Survey details: Telephone survey of 1,085 U.S. adults 18 years and older on April 7-11, 2011, conducted by ORC International. Margin of error is +/- 3.0 percent at the 95% confidence level.

SOURCE American Red Cross

RELATED LINKS
http://www.redcross.org
http://www.worldslargestswimminglesson.org