Nickolas M. Jones, PhD

Data derived from social and informational technologies offer a window into the thoughts, feelings, and motivations that underpin human behavior. The technological systems and platforms we use every day are a wellspring of digital trace data that can be harvested and analyzed to understand many aspects of human life in a variety of contexts. The text we write on social media posts, the time we spend engaging with news about our world, and the information sources to which we attend when life feels uncertain, all tell a personal story about how we appraise and cope with life’s challenges, big and small. My research program is situated at the intersection of psychology, technology, and advanced analytics with the primary goals of a) revealing the social and cognitive processes embedded in digital trace data, b) examining types of (mis)information exposure and its consequences in a variety of contexts, and c) applying creative methodological approaches to understand how people respond psychologically, cognitively, and behaviorally to life’s challenges and uncertainties. To do so, I employ sophisticated analytic approaches (e.g., natural language processing, machine learning, multilevel modeling) on data derived from large-scale surveys, web-browser tracking, ecological momentary assessment, and theory-driven analyses of both large-scale Twitter data and intensive longitudinal media and smartphone data.