Pre-Thesis Week 6: Reformulating Research Questions

Dazhen Yang
2 min readOct 25, 2021

During the one-on-one meeting with professor, I reformulated my research questions and adjusted my reading plan.

Based on two week’s reading, for which I broadly researched the negative effects of social media and fear of missing out, I found that it was common problem among college students, so I would remain my target research group age 18–24. Negative emotions could be summaried to four categories: social comparison, fomo, political disscussion, and cyberbullying. I would only research upwards social comparison and FoMO, for my initial research question is about personal feelings. Though concerns about downsides of social media have long been discussed, but research specifically on Wechat is few, so I would research more on this Chinese platform. Professor advised me that I could consider to research Wechat’s impact on Chinese international students in NYU, but since I’m taking courses remotely, it might be a little difficult for me to conduct experiments or do surveys. Therefore, I would recuite interviewers both in China and New York to analyse their usage patterns.

After sorting my reading lists, it could be concluded that there are internal and external factors causing social media depression. Internal factor is mainly about personal characteristc, which means that introverts might be influenced more by contents and posts on social media platforms, because they themselves are less confident. External factors include insulting or disputable contents, emotional contagion and applications’ features. From these perspectives, Professor Ahmed suggested me to explore which feature or function of Wechat lead to FoMO and social comparison. In order to solve this problem, I would begin to design my survey question, which should be simple. Through the survey and interviews, social media usage patterns of young people could be analysed.

Another useful reminder from the meeting is to divide groups into social media heavy users and light users. After reading Who Are Heavy Social Media Users by CivicScience, I found that 4 hours a day might be a division standard, and in my survey, I would research how much time people spend on Wechat specifically. Another article, Wechat-Its Problematic Use and Relations with the Big Five Personality Traits and Fear of Missing out, mentioned that there are many functions that could cover Chinese people’s daily living and needs, which is one of the reasons why users developed the habit the check Wechat frequently.

Next, I would continue to read about social media overuse and relationship between fomo and Wechat features. Also, I would start to design my questionnair and recuit interviewers.