Dr. Shuyuan Mary Ho (2013 FYAP Grant Winner)- Research Project Information

Title: “Identity Deception and Detection in Computer-Mediated Communications”

Dr. Shuyuan Mary Ho
Dr. Shuyuan Mary Ho

Dr. Shuyuan Mary Ho’s proposed research is a continuation of her previous research on trustworthiness attribution in virtual organizations.  Her current work, based on the social psychology theory of attribution, has uncovered the important finding that information behavior can be used to identify scenarios where members of a computer-mediated group are not behaving in a trustworthy manner, even when true intent is obscured by hidden agendas.  

Proper analysis can identify aspects of conversational cues that can lead to objective judgments around trustworthiness. Shuyuan will study how social actors interact with each other through various computer-mediated communications, and how their observations can be used to assess the identity of online communication partners as part of this process.

Without the cues present in face-to-face interactions (including verbal and nonverbal visual signals), one must constantly assess – through limited information channels – the identity of one’s communication partners. In virtual environments, people not only invent new ways to communicate, but interpret each other differently. This causes identifying deceptive behavior to become even more difficult.

In her proposal that was awarded funding, Shuyuan will design an interactive game that collects a communities’ information behavior in such a way as to be useful for this type of analysis.  This game hones in on trust and deception based on the perceived trustworthiness of others, degrees of trusting (trustfulness), domain knowledge, and the interpretation of motivation when a deceptive act occurs while their personal information is privacy-protected (unidentifiable).  Through gaming interaction and based on the randomly displayed text, research participants will assess each other’s communications to make a determination as to whether a deceptive act is taking place.  This proposal is part of an ongoing study, which seeks to understand the use and detection of gender deception in a virtual environment.