My name is Sue Jamison-Powell and I started working in LiSC as a Research Assistant at the beginning of May. I am a psychologist working on the ENACT Project with Shaun Lawson, Conor Linehan and Andy Garbett. I specialise in online social relationships and social networks. My thesis examined the way that social networking websites and social communication technology influences our social relationships and impacts upon the processes involved in developing and maintaining online relationships. I am also very interested in the process of defriending. I recently presented at a Psychology in the Pub meeting at The Showroom in Sheffield where I talked about my research which examined how people decide to defriend others, and their reactions to both defriending and being defriended. It’s an interesting area, and one that is really only pertinent to online relationships; although my theory posits that breaking the connection online (you either are or are not present in someone’s friends’ list on Facebook for instance) is reminiscent of deciding to end a romantic relationship. There doesn’t seem to be any room for weak ties within online social networks, with one of the main reasons given for defriending another being lack of contact or lack of real connection. Where offline acquaintanceships gradually drift apart, on Facebook they have a definite end. A link to my presentation can be found here.
All the researchers working on the ENACT Project recently met up in London. It was a valuable meeting, especially for me, being a newcomer to the group. It was great to see the initial results of our first work package and see how well our individual work packages fit together. The ENACT Project is using a social media platform to deliver online therapy. Existing online delivery works very well, with similar results to offline methods of delivery, however we are planning to introduce social media elements which will encourage engagement with the package and allow for interactivity between users. I was delighted to accept the position with LiSC as it will allow me to draw upon my previous work which looks at how emotional closeness and trust is formed between individuals interacting in online spaces.
I have been here for just six weeks now and am impressed by the dynamism of this research group. In addition to our weekly meetings where we discuss ongoing research within the department I have attended a brilliant workshop on Sustainable Air Travel, Behaviour Change and Social Media. This multidisciplinary workshop, held in Lincoln, highlighted the ways in which social media can be used to raise awareness of sustainability in travel, and begin to alter the behaviour of users and providers of air travel. It was a good opportunity to look at some of the research which didn’t necessarily fall into my “area of interest” but was very relevant to some of the work I will be doing with the ENACT Project team in terms of behaviour change.
So yes, a new team member – I hope to be making some somewhat more exciting blog posts over the weeks to come!