Nickolas M. Jones, PhD

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Nickolas M Jones - CV.pdf

Welcome! My research spans three related areas of inquiry in the context of large-scale traumatic events – 1) using big data to study temporal dynamics of emotion expression in social media posts before, during, and after collective traumatic events, 2) characterizing misinformation transmission on social media and understanding the psychological consequences of exposure to it, and 3) examining the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral correlates of news media exposure during collective traumas.

My work bridges big data analytics with cross-sectional and sophisticated longitudinal survey methodologies to answer pressing questions about how the information platforms we engage with (traditional and new media) are implicated in our psychological well-being, our perceptions about current events, and our behavioral responses to such events.

Using big data to study the impact of large-scale traumatic (and other) events

Much of my work involves using big social media data to infer psychological states about social media users in the context of collective traumas (e.g., mass shootings) by employing dictionary approaches and natural language processing coupled with non-linear regression modeling techniques. My approach allows me to characterize patterns of emotion expression over time, before, during, and after such events. I employ thoughtful quasi-experimental designs and a novel methodological approach for sourcing Twitter data to explicate the value of using big data methods to study emotional impacts of exposure to collective traumas. Recently, I supervised a study which asked specific questions about the lasting positive emotional and social effects of exposure to the 2017 total solar eclipse across the United States.

2016 - Tweeting negative emotion: An investigation of Twitter data in the aftermath of violence on college campuses. Psychological Methods

2020 - Using big data to study the impact of mass violence: Opportunities for the traumatic stress field. Journal of Traumatic Stress

2022 - The social effects of an awesome solar eclipse. Psychological Science

Misinformation on the Internet

My work also examines misinformation transmission on social media (and the Internet) in various contexts. In particular, I am interested in the temporal dynamics of misinformation transmission during false alarm events as well as the psychological impact of exposure to misinformation. I have also become interested in the prevalence and effects of exposure to medical misinformation.

2017 - Distress and rumor exposure on social media during a campus lockdown. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

2019 - This is not a drill: Anxiety on Twitter following the 2018 Hawaii false missile alert. American Psychologist

2020 - The costs outweigh the benefits: Seeing side-effects online may decrease adherence to statins. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making

The role of the news media during collective traumas

I continue to evaluate how the news media is implicated in the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses people have to collective traumas. I rely on national longitudinal surveys to ascertain the ways in which the content purveyed on news media channels (including social media platforms) fuels psychological distress over time, informs individuals' perceptions of threat, and potentially influences their behavioral responses to threatening contexts (recently, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic).

2016 - Media use and exposure to graphic content in the week following the Boston Marathon bombings. American Journal of Community Psychology

2019 - Media exposure to mass violence events can fuel a cycle of distress. Science Advances

2019 - Who watches an ISIS beheading—And why. American Psychologist

2023 - Idiosyncratic media exposures during a pandemic and their link to well-being, cognition, and behavior over time. (in press). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA