David Jurgens receives NSF CAREER award

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David Jurgens has been awarded a five-year, $581,433 grant from the National Science Foundation. The NSF CAREER award will fund his research on "Fostering Prosocial Behavior and Well-Being in Online Communities," which focuses on identifying and measuring how social media can have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Although many studies have focused on how social media platforms can negatively impact people, understanding the positive effects is still unclear. Jurgens plans on studying the effects of prosocial behavior in social media and how it can boost the psychological well-being of users.

"In general, I'm an optimist, but an optimist who likes to measure things," says Jurgens. "I've been curious whether social media has actual benefit in our lives for all its downsides."

As part of the project, Jurgens plans on releasing tools for everyday users to help people track the good and bad interactions and content on their social media feeds. He says the tools will "hopefully help folks make informed decisions about when it's time to take a break from social media."

Jurgens says the CAREER award will fund new experiments aimed at helping people be more prosocial by fostering strategic encouragement. "I'm hoping to give folks a hand, and a helpful nudge, to show more care and compassion towards others."

Read the announcement from the U-M School of Information