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August 17, 2016

Psych Researchers: General Benevolence Increases with Age


Altruistic brainsNew evidence from UO Psychology researchers identifies a “general benevolence” factor that increases as people age.

The research was led by grad student Jason Hubbard. Other authors include psych faculty members Ulrich Mayr and Sanjay Srivastava. The research made front page news in the Register-Guard, here. The source article is here.

You can also hear Prof. Mayr discuss the research on Oregon Public Radio’s Think Out Loud here.

Great work, team!

July 27, 2016

Prof Srivastava’s Research Featured in CAScade

What's in a Tweet?

Prof. Sanjay Srivastava’s collaborative NIH-funded research on mental health and social media are featured in this quarter’s CAScade magazine:

Srivastava studies how personality affects and is affected by the social environment. He said outcomes of the project could include information about how mental health indicators vary over time and between communities and regions; how major events such as disasters and mass shootings affect community mental health; and how social media might be used for individual-level screening and diagnosis.

“There are mental health variables that are common experience—depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress,” Srivastava said. “We’re interested in individuals but also, at a more collective level, communities. What kind of difficulties are they having, and can we use that to do better health research and policies?”

June 23, 2016

Prof Azim Shariff’s work on driverless cars in Science and the NYT

By IYAR Rahwan/M.I.T. on Publish Date June 23, 2016

Dilemma of Driverless Cars. By IYAR Rahwan/M.I.T. on Publish Date June 23, 2016

Azim Shariff’s latest Science paper, “The social dilemma of autonomous vehicles,” discusses the moral dilemmas presented by driverless cars. See the writeup in the New York Times here:

People say that one day, perhaps in the not-so-distant future, they’d like to be passengers in self-driving cars that are mindful machines doing their best for the common good. Merge politely. Watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Keep a safe space.

A new research study, however, indicates that what people really want to ride in is an autonomous vehicle that puts its passengers first. If its machine brain has to choose between slamming into a wall or running someone over, well, sorry, pedestrian.

In this week’s Science magazine, a group of computer scientists and psychologists explain how they conducted six online surveys of United States residents last year between June and November that asked people how they believed autonomous vehicles should behave. The researchers found that respondents generally thought self-driving cars should be programmed to make decisions for the greatest good.

Sort of. Through a series of quizzes that present unpalatable options that amount to saving or sacrificing yourself — and the lives of fellow passengers who may be family members — to spare others, the researchers, not surprisingly, found that people would rather stay alive.

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