Therapy Student

Month: June, 2014

Experimental Evidence of Massive Scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks

The act of social science research with human subjects has long been a controversy for justifiable reasons. As history has shown in the Stanford Prison Experiment (Zimbardo, 1971), the lack of protection for individuals has an adverse effect on their mental health. While the recent research study, entitled Experimental Evidence of Massive Scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks, is important and provides insight into the role of social media on behavior, it does not follow national and international ethics on research with human subjects. This can have a cataclysmic impact on the socioemotional health of individuals unaware of their participation.

While Facebook, Inc. and Mr. Kramer do not have an institutional (i.e., institution of higher education) affiliation, they are nonetheless bound by federal regulations on human subjects research. Specifically, they are bound as “any research involving the collection of existing data, documents, records, pathological specimens, or diagnostic specimens, if these sources are publicly available or if the information is recorded by the investigator in such a manner that subjects cannot be identified, directly or through identifiers to the subjects” (NIH). The co-investigators, Jamie Guillroy and Jeffrey Hancock, on the other hand, have institutional affiliations. As such, they are bound by federal regulations to “demonstrate that projects which are conducted by or subject to the approval of department or agency heads.”

According to the Federal Code of Regulations on Public Welfare, institutions must “prepare, and maintain adequate documentation of IRB activities,” “copies of all research proposals reviewed, scientific evaluations, if any, that accompany the proposals, approved sample consent documents, progress reports submitted by investigators, and reports of injuries to subjects,” and “copies of all correspondence between the IRB and the investigators.”

Besides the argument that blind data collection was justified, the investigators blatantly ignored the subsection on the general requirements for informed consent. That is, no investigator may involve a human being as a subject in research covered by this policy unless the investigator has obtained the legally effective informed consent of the subject or the subject’s legally authorized representative.”

There is no doubt that Facebook, Inc. has overstepped its boundaries and opened the door to future unethical research with human participants. In order to prevent the reoccurrence of such careless and tragic research in the future, the public must be made aware of their rights. I have contacted Mr. Kramer and each institution separately requesting copies of all records related to the aforementioned study.

Guest Article by Midhat Dzihic

In light of World Refugee Day, which was on June 20, I asked friend and executive director, Midhad Dzihic, to write a brief article about Ljiljani Buducnosti. While the literal translation of liljan is fleur-de-lis, its symbolic meaning has been rooted in religion and politics throughout time. In the context of the humanitarian organization, its literal translation is fleur-de-lis of the future, and it is rooted in the effort to facilitate post-conflict and disaster recovery in Bosnia.

Ljiljani Buducnosti is a non-for-profit organization based in Minneapolis with the primary focus on facilitating post-conflict and disaster recovery in Bosnia. While recently founded and operating on a small scale, it provides assistance to civilians in terms of food, clothing, and any other supplies that are otherwise necessary for daily living.

Brief History

Yugoslavia was a region once admired for its ethnic and religious diversity (as Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Bosnian Muslims lived together peacefully. While subjective experiences and opposing historical accounts make it difficult to describe the events leading to war, I will start with the death of Josip Broz Tito. As leader of the Yugoslavian Partisans, Tito suppressed the voicing of ethnic and religious sentiments in an “icebox of communism” (Jones, 2013, p. 84). After Tito’s death in 1980, multiple leaders began to rotate in an unstable presidency selected by six republics and two autonomous regions. Instability in the region increased when Croatia and Slovenia proclaimed their independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 with support from Germany. The United States and European Union followed by recognizing Bosnia as an independent entity.

The disintegration of previous nation states within the former Yugoslavia fueled Serb aggression. Violence in the region finally prompted the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone and deploy peacekeepers. In response to a Serb attack that killed 68 civilians, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization issued an ultimatum of tactical air strikes if the Serb military did not withdraw heavy weapons from United Nations monitored exclusion zones. In response to this preeminent warning, the Serb military brutishly executed 8,000 Bosnian Muslims (United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, n.d.) in the municipality of Srebrenica. A crude act of genocide, and clear violation of Geneva Convention wartime rules, this act prompted an intensive month-long bombing campaign of Serb territory. A cease-fire agreement eventually led to peace talks between leadership of the Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Bosnian Muslims. The Dayton Agreement, as it is known, was signed in 1995 and redefined the former Yugoslavia into the nine separate entities of today.

The Organization

As a recent high school graduate, I was determined to make a difference not only in the country where I was born but also where my, and others’, heritage remains. While initially unsure of how to help, one day I accidentally came across Istina TV or Truth TV, an organization in Bosnia. As a non-for-profit that is a bridge between local citizens and international humanitarian organizations, I reached out to see whether they would be interested in partnering. Unaware at a time, a partnership quickly flourished. In the past year, Ljiljani Buducnosti in collaboration with Istina TV, has been able to send approximately $2,000 USD to supply 25 families with basic living necessities.

Charity 2

While this has been a success, the need is ever more increasing. While a donation of $100 USD can provide a family meals and hygiene products for an entire month, anything and everything helps.

In an increasingly globalized society in which everyone is interconnected through relationships, human suffering is universal.

Donating

If you are able to donate, any amount, please visit the organization’s website at http://www.ljiljanibuducnosti.org or contact me directly at m.dzihic@ljiljanibuducnosti.org.

Midhat Dzihic

Child-Men fueled by Red Bull

Red Bull

What is happening with young men today?

It seems that no matter where you look, there are child-men everywhere. The difference between child-men and men is a cultural phenomenon in that the former still lives with his parents, is around teeny-five years of age, and generally avoids responsibility. Since some of the statistics related to the achievement of young men is inaccurate, I present recent and verified statistics below:

  • In 2012, 40% of men and 32% of women returned home to live with their parents (Fry, 2013).
  • In 2010, 78.9% of men and 21.1% of women in the United States died by suicide (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, n.d.)
  • In 2010, 62% of associate’s degrees, 58% of bachelor’s degrees, and 60% of doctoral degrees were conferred to women (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012).
  • In 2004, adolescent girls spent and average of 5 hours per week playing video games whereas their counterparts spent and average of 13 hours (Gentile, Lynch, Linger, and Walsh, 2004).

These are only a few shocking statistics that illustrate the demise of young men, or child-men, in the United States. While socioeconomic factors lead child-men to return home to their parents, the general lack of responsibility is not due to socioeconomic factors. The achievement gap between men and women, which relates to lack of responsibility or drive exhibited by child-men, is demonstrated by achievement in higher education. There is nothing inherently wrong with women improving their education. In fact, it is a hallmark of societal growth and improvement. However, a society that is knowledge driven (i.e., careers that require a bachelors degree or above) will continue to create a disparity between child-men and women. This is a problem because educational equality, which translates into earning potential, contributes to the long-term success of interpersonal relationships. While women are not necessarily concerned with out-earning their partner, because historically a woman’s value came from being a mother, daughter, and child, child-men will feel increasingly disparaged. Men’s value, on the other hand, has historically been tied to their career and achievement. This will inevitably lead to interpersonal relationship satisfaction. If the partners are not on par in terms of educational achievement or drive for that matter, they will not be able to communicate effectively.

The disparaging statistics of young men in the United States must end. In order to promote healthy interpersonal relationship functioning, young men must be encouraged to explore their masculinity and, most importantly, to integrate the seemingly opposite dynamics of strong and compassionate. It is an unfortunate misnomer that men cannot be strong and compassionate at the same time.  While it may not seems important to address the aforementioned issues now, it is important to recognize that these issues will persist across future generations of men if not properly addressed.

Resources

Bly, R. (2004). Iron John: A book about men. Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press.

Hymowitz, K.S. (2012). Manning up: How the rise of women has turned men into boys. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Moore, R. and Gillette, D. (1991). King, warrior, magician lover: Rediscovering the archetypes of the mature masculine. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins.

References

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (n.d.). Suicide deaths. Retrieved on June 01, 2014.

Fry, R. (2013). A rising share of young adults live in their parents’ home. Retrieved on June 01, 2014.

Gentile, D.A., Lynch, P.J., Linder, J.R., & Walsh, D.A. (2004). The effects of violent video games on adolescent aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 5-22.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Degrees conferred by sex and race. Retrieved on June 01, 2014.

 

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