November 18, 2020 - Podcast

Episode 60 — Cybersecurity, and emotional expression

As more and more of our personal information goes online – put there both by choice or not by choice – those concerned with privacy wonder if we can stop big data companies from getting our personal information. Unfortunately, the answer is no. But researchers from Indiana University say there are ways to limit Big Data’s file on us. One way, according to Scott Shackleford, associate professor of Business Law and Ethics at IU, is to take ownership of our cyber-hygiene. There are some basic precautions such as using browsers like Duck Duck Go that don’t track you as you’re navigating around (at least, not as much) as well as using various privacy extensions and a decent virtual private network. Also, users should make sure to not reuse passwords and to think critically about using platforms like Facebook or Google to log into tons of sites. Another easy way to change the conversation, he says, is to revise liability structures, in other words make tech firms liable for the content that’s hosted on their sites which will quickly change their decision calculus. This may well happen, he says, if and when Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is revised, or revoked. At the end of the day, Shackleford says, be mindful of the stuff you’re putting out there, because one way or the other, there can be a breach, and your information can get out there. Shackleford says it also is a good idea to download all the information that Google or Facebook have on you, which can be a worthwhile wake-up call. Ultimately, he says, we can all do a better job with our cyber-hygiene. Fred Cate, vice president for research at IU, says the most important thing you can do is to stop volunteering data. That includes not only the things you upload onto Facebook, but also clicking no whenever a platform asks if they can share information across devices. That information, he says, is going to the cloud, and other people are going to have access to it. Also, put yourself on Do Not Call or Do Not Share lists — there are lots of those for data brokers and credit bureaus — and opt out of financial information sharing at your bank.

In other news, few researchers have considered the role of culture, race, and ethnicity in emotion expression. But IU researcher Tennisha N. Riley says emotions have social and cultural meaning. Expressing emotions is a basic human function that communicates our social needs, values, and expectations. The expression of emotion is important to both an individual’s understanding of their own emotional experiences and the communication of their emotional experience to others. Therefore, an individual’s cultural values, as well as their understanding of cultural expectations may guide their emotions. A recent study by Riley shows that for African American youth, aspects of their racial-ethnic identity predict whether they are more positively or negatively expressive. Riley says the idea of emotion expression as cultural is particularly important for adolescents. Adolescence is a unique period of development when emotional response increases as a result of puberty and racial-ethnic identity begins to take shape. Understanding this balancing act for African American youth, Riley says, contributes to a different perspective on emotion expression as holding cultural meaning and values. Riley’s study examined the association between emotion regulation, racial-ethnic identity, and emotion expression. The study found similar results as previous research on emotion expression and emotion regulation. Riley says when youth reported suppressing their emotions or holding them inside, this predicted less expression of positive emotions. When racial-ethnic identity was considered, greater adolescent-report that they view African Americans in a positive light and view being a member of their group positively, predicted greater expression of positive emotion. Riley says this finding reveals the importance of having racial-ethnic pride in oneself and community. A greater positive view of youth’s racial-ethnic community likely predicts expression of happiness and joy, she says. Riley says the study is a step toward understanding the importance of cultural frameworks within emotion and psychological science. This work, she says, moves beyond viewing race and ethnicity as mere surface-level categories, and instead places race and ethnicity as salient values to one’s understanding of self in the context of communicating emotions.