The primary research goal of the Digital Well-Being Lab is to enhance our understanding of human interactions with digital technologies and behaviour in online contexts in order to develop strategies to promote greater well-being in the digital age.
Online Body Language
Nonverbal cues are the key to successful communication. Body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice provide a short-cut that helps us more clearly understand the emotions and intentions of others. However, communicating online limits our ability to exchange these nonverbal cues, leading to potential misunderstandings and a sense of social disconnection.
To find out more about our research about online body language, check out Anna Lomanowska's talk from TEDxUofT 2019:
Touch is one sensory modality that is very difficult to accurately transmit through a digital medium. At the Digital Well-Being Lab, we are interested in learning more about how we can communicate touch and physical intimacy in digital settings.
To find out more about virtual intimacy, we are interested in studying online virtual multi-user environments which take a graphical approach to simulating physical interactions and intimate contact between users through their avatars. We would like to find out how users take advantage of these features to simulate physical contact in virtual setting and how these simulations affect the quality of their social experience.
Importantly, as interpersonal contact and touch are beneficial for well-being, we want to know whether the virtual version of intimacy have a similar benefit.
Empathy in Digital Interactions
Social interactions through digital media are limited in the type of social information that can be exchanged. In other words, the number of channels available for communication are reduced in these contexts. At the Digital Well-Being Lab, we’re interested in finding out how emotional aspects of communication are transmitted through digital media.
Empathy is one feature of social communication that may be particularly affected in digital exchanges. We are interested in learning more about how individual express empathy for others and perceive the expression of empathy in digital contexts.
A greater understanding of the digital exchange of empathy is particularly relevant in digital health care settings, such as telemedicine and
Individuals are increasingly relying on the Internet as a source of health and medical information, social support related to health conditions, as well as self-care to improve health and well-being.
At the Digital Well-Being Lab, we are interested in understanding how individuals interact with different online media related to health and well-being and how they engage with online health communities and providers of well-being related content.
Online self-care is an emerging trend that is based on creating and sharing well-being content on social media. We are interested in learning more about how individuals engage with this content and the potential benefits for well-being.