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    Reconsidering evidence of moral contagion in online social networks

    BURTON, Jason and Cruz, Nicole and Hahn, Ulrike (2021) Reconsidering evidence of moral contagion in online social networks. Nature Human Behaviour 5 , pp. 1629-1635. ISSN 2397-3374.

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    The ubiquity of social media use and the digital data traces it produces has triggered a potential methodological shift in the psychological sciences away from traditional, laboratory-based experimentation. The hope is that by using computational social science methods to analyze large-scale observational data from social media, human behavior can be studied with greater statistical power and ecological validity. However, current standards of null hypothesis significance testing and correlational statistics seem ill-suited to markedly noisy, high-dimensional social media datasets. We explore this point by probing the moral contagion phenomenon, whereby the use of moral-emotional language increases the probability of message spread. Through out-of-sample prediction, model comparisons, and specification curve analyses, we find that the moral contagion model performs no better than an implausible XYZ contagion model. This highlights the risks of using purely correlational evidence from large observational datasets and sounds a cautionary note for psychology’s merge with big data.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Cognition, Computation and Modelling, Centre for
    Depositing User: Ulrike Hahn
    Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2021 16:35
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:14


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