The INSITE researchers examine modern technology from a theoretical and balanced perspective; we do not assume that modern technologies are innately problematic or beneficial. Currently, INSITE lab members are involved in three main areas of inquiry:
Online and Mobile Social Science Research Methods
Social media are popular, ever-evolving Internet-based applications that people use to create content, exchange content, share content, and connect or interact with others. People who use social media produce large amounts of data on these services that could be beneficial for researchers studying a wide range of individual and social phenomenon. However, sound research methods for using social media as a passive research tool are only beginning to emerge.
Along with colleagues at Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo, and Loughborough University (UK), Dr. Shaughnessy is collaborating on the development, validation, and enhancement of research methods using Twitter. The group also is using the new method to improve knowledge on how people experience and express emotions and stress, and the complex relationships between these experiences and their social context, geographical environments, and wellbeing/health.
Data collection for this study is underway. This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Dr. Shaughnessy collaborated with Drs. Colin Robertson and Ketan Shankardass from Wilfrid Laurier University, Rob Feick from the University of Waterloo, and Martin Sykora and Suzanne Elayan from Loughborough University (UK) to develop Stresscapes – an ontology for Twitter that captures people’s level of stress experienced or described in Tweets. While doing so, we also proposed a Unified Ecological Framework to account for the many ways people’s physical and digital worlds connect to impact their well-being.
Now, we are using Stresscapes along with Emotive (another fine-grained sentiment analysis tool) to examine neighbourhood stress and resilience with the goal of developing a number of real-world applications of this research to improve, for instance, municipal urban planning, public health programming and education.
We continue to seek partners interested in new applications for this tool or to collaborate on data-triangulation (i.e., connecting with other data sources) projects. For a representation of our work with this research method, please see:
Online sexual activity (OSA) refers to any behavior or activity that occurs via the Internet and involves sexual content or stimuli. Our published and ongoing research on this topic is focused on improving understanding of non-problematic, or recreational use, of OSAs. We are developing reliable and valid measures to better study these types of online activities and using these measures to examine people’s attitudes, experiences, and outcomes of OSAs.
In previous research, Dr. Shaughnessy and her colleagues have demonstrated that OSAs include separate categories of non-arousal (e.g., seeking sexual information online), solitary-arousal (e.g., viewing erotica or pornography online), and partnered-arousal (e.g., sending sexually explicit messages or pictures to another person using email) activities. In addition, she found that students’ definitions of cybersex, and people’s reported cybersex experiences represent a subtype of partnered-arousal OSAs that occur in real-time, and involve sharing detailed descriptions of sexual activities, fantasies, or desires whether or not self-stimulation accompanies the activity. Our published and ongoing research suggests that many people engage in these activities but do so relatively infrequently, and that most people who participate in partnered-arousal activities – including cybersex – do so with a primary committed partner.
For additional information, please see our publications.
We are currently completing data analysis and publication preparation for the following English studies:
An Examination of the Factor Structure of the Online Sexual Activities Experience Questionnaire