Passively-sensed Behavioral Correlates of Discrimination Events in College Students

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A deeper understanding of how discrimination impacts psychological health and well-being of students would allow us to better protect individuals at risk and support those who encounter discrimination. While the link between discrimination and diminished psychological and physical well-being is well established, existing research largely focuses on chronic discrimination and long-term outcomes. A better understanding of the short-term behavioral correlates of discrimination events could help us to concretely quantify the experience, which in turn could support policy and intervention design. In this paper we specifically examine, for the first time, what behaviors change and in what ways in relation to discrimination. We use actively-reported and passively-measured markers of health and well-being in a sample of 209 first-year college students over the course of two academic quarters. We examine changes in indicators of psychological state in relation to reports of unfair treatment in terms of five categories of behaviors: physical activity, phone usage, social interaction, mobility, and sleep. We find that students who encounter unfair treatment become more physically active, interact more with their phone in the morning, make more calls in the evening, and spend less time in bed on the day of the event. Some of these patterns continue the next day.

Passively-sensed Behavioral Correlates of Discrimination Events in College Students. Yasaman S. Sefidgar, Woosuk Seo, Kevin S. Kuehn, Tim Althoff, Anne Browning, Eve Ann Riskin, Paula S. Nurius, Anind K Dey, Jennifer Mankoff. CSCW 2019, To Appear

A bar plot sorted by number of reports, with about 100 reports of unfair treatment based on national origin, 90 based on intelligence, 70 based on gender, 60 based on apperance, 50 on age, 45 on sexual orientation, 35 on major, 30 on weight, 30 on height, 20 on income, 10 on disability, 10 on religion, and 10 on learning
Breakdown of 448 reports of unfair treatment by type. National, Orientation, and Learning refer to ancestry or national origin, sexual orientation, and learning disability respectively. See Table 3 for details of all categories. Participants were able to report multiple incidents of unfair treatment, possibly of different types, in each report. As described in the paper, we do not have data on unfair treatment based on race.
A heatplot showing sensor data collected by day in 5 categories: Activity, screen, locations, fitbit, and calls.
A heatplot showing compliance with sensor data collection. Sensor data availability for each day of the study is shown in terms of the number of participants whose data is available on a given day. Weeks of the study are marked on the horizontal axis while different sensors appear on the vertical axis. Important calendar dates (e.g., start / end of the quarter and exam periods) are highlighted as are the weeks of daily surveys. The brighter the cells for a sensor the larger the number of people contributing data for that sensor. Event-based sensors (e.g., calls) are not as bright as sensors continuously sampled (e.g., location) as expected. There was a technical issue in the data collection application in the middle of study, visible as a dark vertical line around the beginning of April.
A diagram showing compliance in surveys, organized by nweek of study. One line shows compliance in the large surveys given at pre, mid and post, which drops from 99% to 94% to 84%. The other line shows average weekly compliance in EMAs, which goes up in the second week to 93% but then drops slowly (with some variability) to 89%
Timeline and completion rate of pre, mid, and post questionnaires as well as EMA surveys. Y axis
shows the completion rates and is narrowed to the range 50-100%. The completion rate of pre, mid, and post questionnaires are percentages of the original pool of 209 participants, whereas EMA completion rates are based on the 176 participants who completed the study. EMA completion rates are computed as the average completion rate of the surveys administered in a certain week of the study. School-related events (i.e., start and end of quarters as well as exam periods) are marked. Dark blue bars (Daily Survey) show the weeks when participants answered surveys every day, four times a day
Barplot showing significance of morning screen use, calls, minutes asleep, time in bed, range of activities, number of steps, anxiety, depression, and frustration on the day before, of, and after unfair treatment. All but minutes asleep are significant at p=.05 or below on the day of discrimination, but this drops off after.
Patterns of feature significance from the day before to two days after the discrimination event. The
shortest bars represent the highest significance values (e.g., depressed and frustrated on day 0; depressed on day 1; morning screen use on day 2). There are no significant differences the day before. Most short-term relationships exist on the day of the event, a few appear on the next day (day 1). On the third day one
significant difference, repeated, from the first day is observed.

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