Sunday, September 2, 2007

Art of chatting ftf dying: Argh!

Harvard researcher Robin Abrahams had the following to say as reported in the Australian Daily Telegraph: Art of chatting face to face dying

THE introduction of e-mail, text messaging and iPods is causing a worldwide epidemic of shyness.

Psychologist, Harvard Business School researcher and etiquette columnist Robin Abrahams says societies have become filled with shrinking violets.

"In the past, only about 40 per cent of people reported being shy in social situations,'' Ms Abrahams said.

"It's now a significant problem affecting about half.''

I have one question: Where is the research to support this claim? As far as I can tell it doesn't exist. Do reporters not ask questions anymore?


DebC said...

Also, how different is 'about 40 percent' and 'about half'?

James E. Robinson, III said...

heh, someone said journalist?

Kevin Gamble said...

right, and i'm sure the study was conducted across countries -- like that would be a variable someone doing a study like this would consider important.

what bothers me about this sort of stuff isn't so much the journalists as the scientists. bloggers make statements like these and a conversation takes place. A scientist makes unsubstantiated comments like these and they are spread through the media like they are facts.

another thing that bugs me is I guarantee you that I will be at some meeting where someone will say, "the research says...", and they'll mention this nonsense. maybe i'm naive but i expect better from our scientists -- like at least read the research before you cite it!

don't even get me started on learning styles...

Peg Boyles said...

Hah! Probably took her cues from Harvard colleague Robert Putnam , who cast aspersions on the capacity of the Net to generate social capital in his 1995 book Bowling Alone.

Then along came the Pew Internet & American Life Project's The Strength of Internet Ties (2006), a robust bit of hard research that affirms the value of the Net as a medium par excellence for connecting us and building social bonds in hithertofore unimaginable ways.

To wit:

"Our evidence calls into question fears that social relationships — and community — are
fading away in America. Instead of disappearing, people’s communities are transforming:

The traditional human orientation to neighborhood- and village-based groups is moving towards communities that are oriented around geographically dispersed social networks. People communicate and maneuver in these networks rather than being bound up in one solitary community. Yet people’s networks continue to have substantial numbers of relatives and neighbors — the traditional bases of community — as well as friends and workmates."

And we've only just begun getting enough psychological distance from our hyperlinked environments to begin studying their effects on our social and interior lives.