Pre-Thesis Week 5: Secondary Research

Dazhen Yang
3 min readOct 22, 2021

I found the Guided Reading Plan an effective way for me to organize and plan my secondary research, and the instruction and suggestions from NYU library of how to use Subject-specific searching helped me to find more articles than simply seaching keywords I have. Therefore, I have already find some readings planned in next four weeks. During the first week’s reading, I realize that some articles in the plan might not be that relevent, or they would arouse my interest to specific aspect, so the plan would be dynamic.

Guided Reading Plan

As the picture shows, in the first week, I read mainly about negative emotions generated from social media. Two articles by Mintra Ruensuk describes the experiment to detect emotions using sensors on the smartphone that the researcher did. Though the experiment’s environment differ too much from people’s daily using social media, instead, participants would talk to AI chat robots after watching videos, the study still inspire me a lot:

  1. Real-time detection of transitory emotions. Most study would focus on how users post or feel after using social media, but it could not be intuitionistic and visualized. The negative feelings are always blurred, because few study observed how users’ emotion changed. In the experiment, some datas could help to analyse the flow of users’ emotion, including touch area, pressure, speed and etc. This could explain the whole process of social media using.
  2. Phases of social media using. The study divided the process into two: browsing and chatting. It is a simple but clear way to understand the process. If it could be more specific, the experiment could be better structured. For example, searching or browsing(how users find the content), viewing or reading(content that arouse emotions), reflection(users themselves’ thinking), chatting or posting(how users react) are four phases of using social media, to record time spent in different phases and intervals, as well as interaction datas and mental or emotional changes would help a lot.
  3. Videos to elicit emotions. It is a smart way to use content that have tendency to test emotions. And these could enhance the efficiency of users than wildly observe users’ browsing. If I would do experiments, I might use this for reference. One concern is to make themes or tendency of the content focus on the researching subject and try to cover all possibilities.
  4. PANAS self-assessment. At first, I thought loneliness and anxiety would be specific enough as two negative feelings, but referring to PANAS dimensions, I realized that people’s feelings were complicated. Emotions at one moment could be a mixture of several, including upset, afraid, guilty, hostile, inspired, excieted, distressed… To detect the real emotion with more dimensions and descriptions could result in more exact results.

Another article is “The Dark Side of Social Media: What Makes Some Users More Vulnerable Than Others?” by Reza Ghaiumy Anaraky and Guo Freeman. The authors named four themes of adverse effects of social media use: social comparison, FOMO, political discussions and cyberbullying. While the latter two themes are out of my research scale, social comparison and fomo are two common problems especially to the target group, older adolescents or university students. Moreover, the reading argues that two potential dynamics would affect their social media use and mental health: self-oriented internalization and content-oriented internalization. The researchers conducted semi-structured in depth interviews to explore the downsides of social media, which pay attention more on individual difference, of self-esteem degree or sensitive degree, than objective and external statistics compared to Mintra’s study.

Through these readings, I learned how research objects would affect the experimental methods and how to choose the target participants or interviewees. I found these ways to research more valuable than clear conclusions.

Lastly, I read “An Introduction to the 2020 International Conferrence and Social Media and Society”, which provided me with some interesting topics under discussion nowadays: “ Is empowering every voice via social media a net good?”, “ Can AI and other automated tools help social media cosumers and producers to overcome challenges?” and etc. all inspire me about diverse aspects to think about negative emotions aroused by social media and potential solutions.