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Twitter and Facebook Can Kill Compassion, Studies Suggest

Two separate studies at two different California universities are both suggesting that online social networks could cause psychological, and potentially moral, harm to avid users, reports the Daily Mail.

One of those studies, led by Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang at the University of Southern California, claims that the speedy, immediate transfer of information on such sites does not provide the reader with sufficient time to develop a moral response. "If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality," Dr. Immordino-Yang explained to the Mail.

The second study, conducted at the University of California, San Diego under the leadership of Professor Dilip Jeste, strives to show that such human facilities as empathy and selflessness reside in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. The problem? According to Jeste, the pre-frontal cortex shuts down during times of overstimulation. "Constant bombardment by outside high-intensity stimuli is not likely to be healthy," he told the Mail.

While we certainly respect these findings, and might be able to anecdotally support them, we do find a slight disconnect between Immordino-Yang's research (at least as described by the Mail) and her conclusions. Having bombarded 13 subjects with true stories of physical and emotional pain, respectively, she found that the subjects responded in milliseconds to the former, but took as long as eight seconds to fully register the latter.

If the whole problem resides in the time it takes to develop moral responses, we lowly bloggers figure that these findings merely suggest that a Facebook user will have a hard time feeling compassion while on Facebook. Once you log off and resumes normal, more slowly paced human interaction, wouldn't it hold that you'd have ample time to feel compassion for a needy friend? And, really, if somebody turns to Facebook instead of their friends for sympathy or understanding, we'd think they have more problems than overloaded pre-frontal cortexes. [From: Daily Mail]

Tags: brain, facebook, psychology, research, socialnetworking, top, twitter