Entries in Study (8)


Facebook Users Unwittingly Share More Personal Information, Study Finds

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) -- Facebook users may try to guard their privacy, but they're unwittingly sharing more personal information online than ever, according to a seven-year study from Carnegie Mellon University.

As the social network made changes to its user interface and settings, the study found people were more likely to share additional private information with friends and a group the researchers call the "silent listeners."

The silent listeners include Facebook, third-party app developers, and advertisers.

The researchers used data from 5,076 Facebook users in the university's network to study how privacy and disclosure evolved from 2005 until 2011.

The study reflects Facebook's shift from being a public place to one that is increasingly private, where users can carefully choose their audience, said Jules Polonetsky, director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, who is not affiliated with the study.

"More people are being more active, but they're doing it in a way that allows them to interact more directly with the audience they intend to," he told ABC News.

From 2005 to 2009, users decreased the amount of information they shared publicly, according to the study. There was, however, a turnaround in December 2009 when Facebook changed its default settings, the study said.

Researchers said the 2009 uptick was likely caused by people being confused as to how to navigate the new settings.

In 2011, when Facebook introduced its timeline layout, people were presented with more data fields and encouraged to fill out a personal history that included milestones in their lives, such as getting engaged or buying a house.

"When Facebook started out, it was a very public place. Most of us joined regional networks and anything you did, including your pictures and updates were available to everyone in the network," Polonetsky said.

"I think the study shows Facebook users have reached a reasonable equilibrium of there is far less data being shared publicly and much more interactions with your friends, which is a pretty good thing," he said.

Researchers said the study's results, which focused on a data set "dominated by undergraduate students," might not extend to a more diverse sample of users.

A Facebook spokesman told ABC News the company was aware of the study.

"Independent research has verified that the vast majority of the people on Facebook are engaging with and using our straightforward and powerful privacy tools -- allowing them to control what they're sharing, and with whom they're sharing," a spokesman said in an email.

In an unrelated study, Facebook data scientists reported the average post was seen by one-third of a user's Facebook friends.

Researchers studied 222,000 Facebook users' posts last June and found that over the course of the month, people reached 61 percent of their friends.

But the study also found social media users underestimate their reach -- guessing their audience is just 27 percent of its true size.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Envy Outweighs Greed in New Investment Study

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- “It is not enough that I succeed,” the late Gore Vidal once noted. “Others must fail.”

Vidal, who also famously admitted that “a little something” in him dies whenever a friend does well, would have had a field day with a new study, “Investment Choices with Envy and Altruism,” conducted by Israeli economists Haim Levy and Guy Kaplanski. Their findings are totally counter-intuitive from an economics standpoint (unless, of course, you’re Gore Vidal, in which case you probably knew it all along.)

Here’s the gist: We are all happy to lose money, just as long as other people lose more.

“Normally in economics we assume that the person wants to have the highest benefit from his wealth, and he does not care about other people,” said Levy, a professor of finance at Hebrew University, in Jerusalem.  "But that’s not what we found.”

About 10 percent of nearly a thousand business students and business executives interviewed in Israel, the United States, Switzerland, Turkey and China, were “altruists” -- that is, they said they were happy if a friend or family member made more money than they did. This only applied to someone they knew, however.

“Altruism is very rare toward strangers,” said Levy. “At most what we get is that you are indifferent to strangers.” (Indeed, another 20 percent they didn’t care what happened to anyone else as long as they had their own money.)

But a whopping 70 percent said they were fine losing money, provided other people lost more. "‘I’m happier if you are relatively poorer’-- which goes against economic theory,” said Levy. “Economic theory says, ‘I should be happy with what I have.’ But we found that, ‘I’m happy to decrease my wealth as long you decrease your wealth.’ This is pure jealousy.”

This jealousy applies to strangers, too, and not just our nearest and dearest. For example: Suppose your portfolio decreases by 10 percent. According to the study, if the Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 20 percent, you would be OK with your loss, because you only lost ten percent -- and everyone else, even those you don’t know! -- lost more.

On the other hand, if your portfolio increased by 10 percent and the Dow went up, say, 30 percent, you would be unhappy. Sure, you may have made money, but other folks made even more -- which is completely unacceptable in a world rife with schadenfreude.

Although the findings are bleak about human nature, they don’t especially shock ABC News personal finance columnist Ted Schwartz, the president and chief investment officer of Capstone Investment Financial Group. "Our job as an adviser is to teach clients to run their own race-- 'What are your goals and how do you achieve them?'” he said. “Society trains you to run a comparative race-- 'I lost 20 percent but they lost 30, so I win.’ So, I am not too surprised by this study."

“The key to success,” he continues, “is to avoid large periods when you are not compounding your money due to losses. As Warren Buffet says, rule one is don’t lose money. Rule two is don’t forget rule one.”

And if your best friend happens to forget both rules, well, so much the better.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Not a Joke: Government Issues Study of a Study About Studies

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon was inundated with so many studies in 2010 that it commissioned a study to determine how much it costs to produce all those studies. Now the Government’s Accounting Office (GAO) has reviewed the Pentagon’s study and concluded in a report this week that it’s a flop.

The study of a study of studies began in 2010 when Defense Secretary Robert Gates complained that his department was “awash in taskings for reports and studies.” He wanted to know how much they cost.

Two years later, the Pentagon review is still continuing, which prompted Congress to ask the GAO to look over the Pentagon’s shoulder. What they found lacked military precision.

The GAO found only nine studies that had been scrutinized by the Pentagon review, but the military was unable to “readily retrieve documentation” for six of the reports.

The Department of Defense’s “approach is not fully consistent with relevant cost estimating best practices and cost accounting standards,” the GAO concluded. In fact, they often did not include items like manpower, the report found.

The Pentagon “partially concurs” with the GAO’s report.

The cost of the study about the study of studies was not immediately available from the GAO.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Mall Vacancies Hit 11-Year High 

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Tight budgets may not be the only problem shoppers encounter this holiday season when they hit the malls for their annual shopping spree.

Many shoppers may be surprised to find their favorite stores empty as data from the commercial real estate research firm Reis reports that mall vacancies have hit an 11-year high.

The report found that regional and super mall vacancies were up 9.4 percent in the three months ending Sept. 30—up from 8.8 percent during the same period in 2010.

Reis compiled the data by surveying more than 600 million square feet of stores nationwide—40 percent of the country’s malls—as well as shopping mall property managers across the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Salaries of Top American Executives Increased in 2010

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While the recovery remains stubbornly slow, with 14 million people still looking for work, things are definitely looking up for those few at the very top of the economic ladder.

CEO pay went up an average of 23 percent in 2010, while wages for rest of us rose a meager one-half-percent, according to a new report prepared for the New York Times.

The report, which was prepared for the New York Times by Equilar, an executive compensation data firm, found that the median CEO salary was $10.8 million.

The chief executive of DirecTV was reportedly paid $33 million last year, while the head of Occidental Petroleum was paid $76 million, and Viacom's chief topped all CEOs at $84.5 million, after signing a new long-term contract that included one-time stock awards.

In comparison, the average American worker made $752 a week in late 2010, according to the New York Times, up only 0.5 percent from a year earlier.

"CEO pay tends to be more linked to performance than the average worker's pay, and this has been a good year for American public companies, after all," said Professor Robert Jackson Jr. of Columbia Law School. "What's really troubling for me is that as well as American public companies did this year, their CEOs did better. That is, their CEO pay seems to have outstripped significantly shareholder performance.
"Back in 2008 when performance fell considerably, CEO pay did not decline to the extent that shareholder value did, making us all feel a little like tails I win, heads you lose," Jackson added.

CEOs are able to have some control over their earnings because they have influence over the people who decide on salaries.

"The fundamental problem with CEO pay is that the executives themselves participate in their own compensation -- they have influence over the directors, who decide what they're paid," Jackson said.

In some ways, executives are being rewarded for not hiring -- for getting more work out of fewer workers. Why aren't workers rewarded too?

"The worker gets paid what the market will bear and because of that you see wages that tend to reflect market values -- by contrast CEO pay is not set in a fully competitive market," Jackson said.

So although workers may have to wait awhile for their wages to increase, "The boss still gets his as long as investors get theirs," Jackson said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


UCLA Studies Show Stigma of Joblessness Is Immediate

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Economists have known for years that long-term unemployment can greatly reduce a person's chances of finding another job.  But researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have found that the stigma of being unemployed begins the minute the person walks out the door.

"We're finding that people actually judge the unemployed as not good people compared to the employed," Geoffrey Ho, a doctoral candidate in human resources who led three studies of the psychological burden borne by the unemployed, said in a telephone interview.

It's not new that potential employers tend to shy away from hiring someone who has been unemployed for a long time.  The longer a person is out of work, the less likely it is that he or she will ever find another job, according to many studies.  That's partly because of "skill decay," especially in high-tech fields where the game can change on a daily basis, but it's also because of nagging doubts over the abilities, competence and confidence of a person who is unable to find work for months or even years.

What's new, however, is the finding that a worker's stock begins to decline immediately.  It's not a huge drop, at least initially, but it's significant, according to the UCLA studies.

The first two studies drew from UCLA databases, and most of the participants were students, who presumably have little or no experience in hiring people.  But the third was from a national database maintained by Amazon and widely used by researchers.  It is believed to be representative of the nation as a whole.

Participants in all three studies were given resumes from job seekers which told much about their lives, such as education, work record, experiences, and other factors.  Some of the participants were told the applicant was still employed.  The rest were told that he or she had been unemployed for just a few days.  The only difference was whether the person was still employed.

The participants were asked to rate the applicant on competence, including whether the person seemed confident, capable, efficient, intelligent, and skillful.  They were also asked if the person is friendly, good natured, sincere, trustworthy, warm and well intentioned.

"We were surprised to find that, all things being equal, unemployed applicants were viewed as less competent, warm and hirable than employed individuals," Ho said.  "We were also surprised to see how little the terms of departure mattered.  Job candidates who said they voluntarily left a position faced the same stigma as job candidates who said they had been laid off or terminated."

Only when the job loss was in no way attributable to the individual, such as bankruptcy by the employer, did the disadvantage of being unemployed disappear, the researchers said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Financial Regulators Approve Plan for Implementing Volcker Rule

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Top financial regulators approved recommendations on how to implement the Volcker Rule, which intends to keep government-backed banks from engaging in speculative and risky activities by prohibiting banking entities from conducting proprietary trading and limiting investments in hedge funds and private equity.

In its third public meeting, the Financial Stability Oversight Council approved an 81-page study outlining several measures for implementing the rule, from performing quantitative analysis to detect proprietary trading to establishing a compliance regime which would require CEOs to vouch for the regime’s effectiveness.

The study was required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law enacted last summer as a means of determining how to turn the rule into legislation.

The key measures detailed in the study consist of the use of quantitative methods to identify trends in trade activity that may be consistent with proprietary trading; the employment of a “basket of metrics” to identify prohibited activity, among which would require the categorization of trade as either customer-initiated or trader-initiated; the monitoring of an internal compliance regime by supervisors and CEOs; and the prohibition of banks from investing in hedge funds or private equity funds and requiring banks to disclose any exposure to these funds.

The release of the study acts as a road map for implementing the Volcker Rule.  Regulators will consider the council’s recommendation and will have nine months to develop the final rules for implementation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Disney Study: Moms Spend 24 Hours a Week Online

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Disney Online(NEW YORK) -- A new study shows that the typical mom spends 24 hours a week surfing the Web. Most of that time, according to Disney Online's Mom on a Mission research study, is spent connecting with family, searching for information and managing their lives.

"Our study results showed that technology and the Internet are helping to make moms' lives more manageable, so they can spend more quality time with their families,” said Paul Yanover, EVP of Disney Online.

The study, released Wednesday, included two phases: consumer immersion blogs and online quantitative study. In the first phase, nine moms interacted in a secure, online blog for one week, uploading video, images and text. The second phase was an online study of 3,300 females, ages 21-54, who were either pregnant or had one child 14 years old or younger.

The top subjects researched by moms online include deals and discounts and recipes. Other topics include family activities, entertainment and travel, personal health, arts/crafts projects, holiday planning and activities.
 Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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