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Alison Young ’07 Reusser Chairs Symposium at Association for Psychological Science Meeting

June 28, 2024

Alison Young ’07 Reusser, associate professor of psychology, was joined by Lisa Gassin and Kristian Veit from Olivet Nazarene University at the national meeting of the Association for Psychological Science. The three presented their research findings from a three-year research project, supported by a CCCU Networking Grant, on benevolent responses to online toxicity. Houghton professors Jonathan Case and Brandon Bate ’04 also contributed to the research.

Toxic behavior on the internet has become an increasingly prevalent issue. According to Pew Research, 66% of U.S. respondents have witnessed online harassment,1 while 41% have personally experienced it.2 The research team explored whether prosocial and positive responses could help mitigate online toxicity. The study aimed to examine the frequency of benevolent responses to toxic posts on Reddit, the impact of such responses on encouraging others to contribute to the conversation and the perception of individuals who choose to respond benevolently.

The symposium chaired by Alison Young ’07 Reusser provided a platform to share the team’s findings and insights. The study’s results shed light on the importance of fostering a culture of kindness and empathy in online spaces. As the prevalence of online harassment continues to rise, it is crucial to explore strategies that promote healthier and more constructive online interactions. Read more about the research.

1. Pew Research Center. (2017). Online Harassment 2017.

2. Pew Research Center. (2021). The State of Online Harassment.