You may have seen news reports and social media posts concerning an online survey containing offensive language.
Saleem Alhabash is an associate professor of public relations and social media in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. His research focuses on the processes and effects of media, with an emphasis on changing attitudes and stereotypes.
A voluntary survey on bystander intervention to racial aggression was made available to students in the college through an online research portal. Researchers are working to uncover the ways in which people are motivated to respond to racial aggression when it is posted anonymously via social media. To do this, Alhabash and his team are testing reactions to posts that have already been made public by users from online sources, such as Google and Reddit. These posts were not from MSU students or anyone in the MSU community. The survey was only accessible by students in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. There were 58 participants before the survey was removed from the portal.
The goal of the research is to help determine at what level of aggression bystanders will intervene or speak out against racist language and to study how to best combat aggressive behavior online. The language in the survey questions was taken directly from existing online and social posts. This is the third study conducted on the topic and it was approved by MSU's Institutional Review Board in October.
Due to the nature and language used in the survey and for the protection of the participants, subjects were asked to review a consent form prior to taking the survey.