21
Nov 19

Fake News

For the past several months, at least one of my friends have shared a post, Women Should Go Out With Friends Twice A Week For Better Health, posted by creativehealthyfamily.com (n.d.) on their Facebook.  The article claims that according to a new study, women should go out with girlfriends twice a week to be healthier (creativehealthyfamily.com, n.d.). It further claims that “drinking beer, gossiping, and talking about their rivals (preferred topic). Doing these “things” make women socialize, drink and laugh together” (creativehealthyfamily.com, n.d.). At first, I got excited for a second, how wonderful it is to now have empirical research to backup my excuse to go out with my girlfriends. Quickly, though, I started to question the research. How did the study operationally define “healthier”? How did the study end up with twice a week, but no once or thrice for example? Dr. Robin Dunbar, who was hired to run this study, explains to The Huffington Post that “[t]he figure of twice a week comes from our findings that this is the amount of time that you typically spend with your closest friends/family” (as cited in creativehealthyfamily.com, n.d.). How did he find that findings? And with all these questions my excitement faded and the researcher-in-training in me got the best of me and I fact checked. According to editor in chief Alan Duke (2019) for Hoaxalert.com, the study was actually a social experiment conducted by Robin Dunbar, an Oxford psychology professor, who was hired by the Guinness Beer company. The social experiment involvement five men (note no women) to measure men’s happiness “doing things” with the men (Dunbar, 2019). The purpose of the social experiment was meant for the Guinness Beer company to use as a television campaign to promote men going out and drinking beer with friends (Dunbar, 2019). I’m echoing our lesson commentary that it’s not to say that the researcher, in this case Dunbar, intentionally mislead the public, but there are many aspects that could have led him in this particular direction (PSU WC, 2019, L.13). Thus, it’s important to fact check, check for the credits page, check to see who sponsored it and what was their interest, and check researchers’ affiliation (PSU WC, 2019, L.13). The fake news could end with you, if you fact check before sharing. 

 

 

References

Duke, A. (2019, July 1). Fake News: Women Do NOT Need To Go Out With Friends Twice A Week To Stay Healthy: Lead Stories. Retrieved November 21, 2019, from https://hoax-alert.leadstories.com/3470628-fake-news-women-do-not-need-to-go-out-with-friends-twice-a-week-to-stay-healthy.html?fbclid=IwAR1S9BYjvQrZlCt5WaHVYhGXpp5XVu1M5Gf-dMNBL1UNpONC9aVhtHEq_hw.

Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2019). PSYCH 424 :
Applied Social Psychology, Lesson 13: Social Change/Participatory Research. Retrieved on November 19, 2019 from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2008549/modules/items/27030759

Women Should Go Out With Girlfriends Twice A Week To Improve Their Health. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2019, from https://www.creativehealthyfamily.com/women-should-go-out-with-girlfriends-twice-a-week-to-improve-their-health/.


05
Jul 14

Traditional And Social Change Research Applied to Business in Japan

In 1989, I started to help American commercial carpet tile company in Georgia as Japanese language interpreter. Then in 1991, I joined this company and then came back to Japan. I have been inside of business scene in Japan since then. This is the story of what I have seen before, during and after the social change research became popular within business community in Japan.

Social change is often associated with governmental and academic studies of societal issues (Penn State WC, 2014), but I feel business in the modern world is ultimately tied to everything about societal change. If we are to make a living, we will be involved with some kind of business. Business affects how a country is run, because no politician in the advanced country in the world is free of business contact.

In 1991, Japan was at the end of bubble economy. At the time, companies were ignoring the possibility of losing huge amounts of money. But it did happen, and when the bubble busted in 1992, like with most other companies, our accounting department was scrutinized. It turned out that there was much waste going on in Japan branch. Many consultants came in to deal with this waste. Some of consultants were hired for one time only projects, and they were seen as rescuers, professional people who knew best. Their research and solutions were based on traditional scientific ways that the objectivity and detachment from emotion was important. With this method, they did not understand the background of why and how the company ended up where they were. They were paid regardless of how the companies fared after executing their recommendations. Our company and just about all companies I knew at the time ended up losing huge amounts of money despite of, or in some cases because of taking the action recommended by the consultants.

Some of the consultants joined our company as hired guns. One was a CEO, who’s job was to re-organize, or re-engineer our company and turn it around within a few years. From what I saw, this was a  common practice in 1980’s and 90’s in the US and Japan. Sometimes they conducted participatory action research to change, seeking out and working with people who have been working with their company for many years. Sometimes, they operated as action researcher who would gain respect and recognition sometimes beyond the business world and make big money by success in taking action based on their research, or integrating their own value through research result. These hired gun consultants may have momentarily brought the company impressive financial turn around, but ultimately after they left, companies went back to its own ways. If a company was based on sound philosophy, it hung on to and strengthened its core. In this process, a new leader emerged to carry it on. Unfortunately, that did not happen to my company, but I have seen it work with some other companies. It worked with Nissan when it was bought out by Renault and Carlos Gohsn was placed in leadership role in Japan, and with IBM when Louis Gersner became its Global leader (Gohsn, 2001, Gerstner, 2003).

Yes, the social change research can be both good and bad, and sometime, traditional research method works better (Penn State WC, 2014). For real life issues in business, I encounter activist research all the time. It is best that we listen more rather than just close our ears to try to think of ways to push through with our ideas, because we can never be certain that our way is the best way.

Resource

Brydon-Miller, M. (1997). Participatory Action research: Psychology and Social Change. Journal of Social Issues, 53(4). 657-666

Gerstner, Louis (2003). Who Says Elephants Can’t Fly? Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change. Harper Business.

Ghosn, Carlos (2001). Saisei heno chosen (Challange to Revitalize in Japanese). Diamond Publishing Company.

Pennsylvania State World Campus. Applied Social Psychology. 2014. Retrieved from: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp14/psych424/001/common/homepage.html


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