Dr. Wohn (she/her) is an associate professor at NJIT and director of the Social Interaction Lab (socialinteractionlab.com). Her research is in the area of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), where she studies the characteristics and consequences of social interactions in online environments such as livestreaming, esports, virtual worlds (metaverse) and social media. Her main projects examine 1) content moderation, online harassment and the creation/maintenance of online safe spaces, 2) social exchange in digital economies and digital patronage (creator-fan dynamics) and 3) news consumption via social media.
Areas of Expertise (8)
Algorithm and Society
Mozilla Research Grant
For Dealing with Harassment: Moderation Practices of Female and LGBT Live Streamers.
Michigan State University: Ph.D., New Media, Social Networks, Games 2013
Harvard University: M.A., Journalism 2009
Ewha Womans University: B.A., Journalism, Film & Television 2002
Media Appearances (7)
This is how Porn Ended up on Ninja's Zombie Twitch Channel
Donghee Yvette Wohn, a professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology who studies videogame livestreaming, says it’s impossible to compare Twitch with other major social networks, because its community members take a much more active role in deciding what speech should be allowed. “That means that each streamer can decide what is acceptable or not in their own little communities and they handle a lot of the moderation within,” she explains. Twitch has an open API streamers can use to build custom moderation tools, as well as off-the-shelf options. For example, streamers can filter what words commenters can say in their chat.
How to Spend Christmas Alone and Still Make It Merry
Using technology to connect with others can give us the illusion we are with someone else psychologically, even if we are physically apart, says Donghee Yvette Wohn, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) assistant professor of information systems and director of the Social Interaction Lab in NJIT's Ying Wu College of Computing. This feeling can be generated without even looking at the other person, like playing a multiplayer online game with someone else. It doesn't even have to be a sophisticated one. It could be simple like Words with Friends. Wohn also suggests hopping into a live stream. There are millions of people on live streaming sites like Twitch and Mixer who are broadcasting a wide-range of content in real time. You can chat with them and interact with other viewers who are interested in similar things.
‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ Success Signals Mobile Gaming’s Future
“These are things that are not necessarily tied to the mechanics of the game themselves but something that could be related to the player’s self-identity,” said D. Yvette Wohn, an assistant professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology who specializes in human computer interaction and social technologies. “Especially if you’re spending a lot of time in the game, your character in the game becomes a part of your identity,” Wohn said in an interview May 2. “So why wouldn’t you want to spend money on clothes? Because that’s what you do offline, as well.”
Want extra help keeping your kids safe during summer? There's an app for that.
North Jersey online
Dr. Yvette Wohn, director of the social media lab at NJIT, warns parents not to over-rely on devices when parenting."You know how you forget things when you rely on a calendar but forget to check it?" she says.
Is it time you went on a social media detox?
Medical News Today
Such situations may cause embarrassment at best, but a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior suggests that these moments can often damage relationships in irreparable ways. "We found," explains study co-author Yvette Wohn, "that people who tried to remove or justify embarrassing content actually experienced a decline in their relationship with the offender." "It may be important for people to know that trying to engage in impression management may also come at the expense of a personal relationship," she adds.
The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training
Pew Research Center online
D. Yvette Wohn, assistant professor of information systems at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, wrote, “Formalized apprenticeships that require both technical skills and interpersonal interaction will become more important.”
Social media 'face threats' affect relationships
Science Daily online
Grounded in theory, D. Yvette Wohn, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the information systems department at NJIT's College of Computing Sciences, explores the relationship between humans and technology using fundamental research tactics.
Event Appearances (2)
Understanding the roles and emotional labor of moderators on Twitch
International Communication Association Conference Washington, D.C.
Live Streaming, Playing, and Money Spending Behaviors in eSports
International Communication Association Conference Washington, D.C.
Research Focus (4)
Technology and Health / Psychological well-being
There are numerous technologies that can support healthy living, ranging from emotional support via social media to chronic disease management. Our lab is currently working on a number of different health technology projects in collaboration with researchers at Rutgers, University of Maryland, and Microsoft Research among others. Recent/current projects include: 1) Utilizing social media to improve mental health through social support, 2) Using web tools to break sedentary behavior, and 3) Using games for stroke rehabilitation.
Games, live streaming, and eSports
Live streaming and esports are relatively new cultural trends that are recreational activities that require high technology specifications. Current projects are aimed at understanding more about people’s behaviors in these environments with the aim of developing better systems, such as 1) Understanding virtual currency/ economies, 2) Relationships between streamers and viewers, 3) Moderation practices to deal with online harassment, and 4) live streaming e-commerce/shopping. We are collaborating with researchers in Clemson University, Sonoma State, and Google. Our work is supported by the Mozilla Foundation and National Science Foundation.
News Consumption in the Age of Social Media
Crystallization is a network model of information flow and reality formation. This model incorporates network theory into the traditional agenda-setting theory and proposes that members of one’s social networks become “neo agenda setters.” We are also doing empirical work on how people consume news through mobile social media and how it influences their political engagement.
Robots and Bots
We are examining the role that physical robots and virtual bots play in communication via technology.
Research Grants (3)
Augmenting Social Media Content Moderation
National Science Foundation $849,024
Specifically, the project involves five main research objectives that will be met through qualitative, historical, experimental, and computational research approaches. First, the project will improve understanding of human-in-the-loop decision making practices and mental models of moderation by conducting interviews and observations with moderators across different content domains. Second, it will assess the socioeconomic impact of technology-augmented moderation through industry personnel interviews. Third, the project will test interventions to decrease the emotional toll on human moderators and optimize their performance through a series of experiments utilizing theories of stress alleviation. Fourth, the project will design, develop, and test a suite of cognitive assistance tools for live streaming moderators. These tools will focus on removing easy decisions and helping moderators dynamically manage their emotional and cognitive capabilities. Finally, the project will employ a historical perspective to analyze companies' content moderation policies to inform legal and platform policies.
Handling Online Risks and Creating Safe Spaces: Content Moderation in Live Streaming Micro Communities
National Science Foundation $230,055
This research will investigate how individuals and small groups handle content moderation real time in the context of live streaming, from both technical and social perspectives, distinguishing between professional content creators who create content for a living, and hobbyists. Live streaming services such as Twitch are the latest form of social media that marries user-generated content with the traditional concept of live television broadcasting: as someone broadcasts, viewers can post comments in a chat interface that is displayed alongside the broadcast, creating an interactive synchronous media experience. This real-time interaction, however, makes the platform ripe for deviant behavior, as potential harassers can visually see the immediate impact of their harsh words on the person who is broadcasting. Most current forms of social media rely on crowdsourced methods of moderation, where users report bad content that is ultimately reviewed by a human moderator. This does not work well in the context of real-time moderation, posing greater social and technological challenges. This project will study approaches to improving understanding of the sociotechnical aspects of content moderation from the perspective of micro communities on live streaming platforms. By understanding how streamers currently moderate audiences through manual and automated labor, the research will identify opportunities for technology to assist and enhance the moderation process
Dealing with Harassment: Moderation Practices of Female and LGBT Live Streamers
On the heels of a presentation at the All Things Moderation conference, where Dr. Wohn talked about ongoing work related to the emotional tolls of human moderators who moderate small streams on Twitch, the Mozilla foundation announced that they will be funding research on understanding how female and LGBT livestreamers deal with harassment. This is such an important topic to research- it may seem absurd, but streamers get so much hate just for being a woman, or just for being LGBT- there are ways technology can help identify and get rid of toxic people, but it is very much a work in progress and an issue that technology alone will not be able to solve.
Understanding Facebook news post comment reading and reacting behavior through political extremism and cultural orientationComputers in Human Behavior
Almoqbel, M., Wohn, D.Y., Hayes, R.A., Cha, M
2019 Social media allows the readers of online news posts more engagement with the article through comments and comment Liking. Motivations for such actions are important because engagement around a comment increases the accessibility of that comment to other readers, leading to a far-reaching effect on the news post ground truth. Yet, motivations behind these actions and how they relate to the increasingly polarized political environment is understudied.
Live Streaming, Playing, and Money Spending Behaviors in eSportsGames and Culture
Wohn, D. Y., & Freeman, G.
2019 Live streaming has enabled eSports to become more accessible, ranging from professionally organized tournaments to individuals hosting from their bedroom. While different aspects of eSports have been investigated in separate contexts, in this article, we report findings of two survey studies to explore eSports as a holistic media ecosystem that includes playing, streaming, viewing, and spending.
Beyond the “Like”: How People Respond to Negative Posts on FacebookJournal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media
Spottswood, E., & Wohn, D. Y.
2019 New features of social network platforms afford users the ability to navigate potentially sensitive situations in ways they could not before. This study surveyed 260 Facebook users to uncover how people are using this social media platform’s new “reaction” buttons to respond to others’ posts about negative topics such as traumatic life situations, catastrophic current or past events, and interpersonal crises.
Effect of Internet Literacy in Understanding Older Adults’ Social Capital and Expected Internet SupportCommunication Research Reports
Rios, J., Wohn, D. Y., & Lee, Y-H.
2019 This article investigates whether knowledge of Internet usage among older adults is related to social capital as well as their expectations to obtain social support online. A U.S. national survey of adults aged 60 and older (n = 1,101) found that Internet literacy is significantly associated with their expected Internet support and bridging and bonding social capital even after controlling for age, Internet use, and other factors.
Utilitarian and Hedonic Motivations for Live Streaming Shopping2018 ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences for TV and Online Video
Jie Cai, Donghee Yvette Wohn, Ankit Mittal, Dhanush Sureshbabu
2018 Watching live streams as part of the online shopping experience is a relatively new phenomenon. In this paper, we examine live streaming shopping, conceptualizing it as a type of online shopping that incorporates real-time social interaction. Live streaming shopping can happen in two ways: live streaming embedded in e-commerce, or e-commerce integrated into live streaming. Based on prior research related to live streaming and consumer motivation theories, we examined the relationships between hedonic and utilitarian motivations and shopping intention. We found that hedonic motivation is positively related to celebrity-based intention and utilitarian motivation is positively related to product-based intention. A content analysis of open-ended questions identified eight reasons for why consumers prefer live streaming shopping over regular online shopping.
All the news that you don't like: Cross-cutting exposure and political participation in the age of social mediaComputers in Human Behavior
Seong Jae Min, Donghee Yvette Wohn
2018 This study investigated the factors that affect the relationship between cross-cutting exposure and political participation. It was found that cross-cutting exposure to politically disagreeable news on Facebook, overall, was associated with increased political participation both online and offline. The association was stronger when the cross-cutting exposure came from weak ties, or acquaintances and strangers, and when the individuals were highly engaged with the cross-cutting news. Cross-cutting exposure from strong ties showed no significant relationship with political participation. It is suggested that cross-cutting exposure and political participation in the age of social media are different from those of the offline world, because they are supported by the norm of individual self-expression and take place in more anonymous and comfortable settings.
Explaining Viewers' Emotional, Instrumental, and Financial Support Provision for Live Streamers2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Donghee Yvette Wohn, Guo Freeman, Caitlin McLaughlin
2018 On live streams, viewers can support streamers through various methods ranging from well-wishing text messages to money. In this study (N=230) we surveyed viewers who had given money to a streamer. We identified six motivations for why they gave money to their favorite live streamer. We then examined how factors related to viewer, streamer, and viewer-streamer interaction were associated with three forms of social support provision: emotional, instrumental, and financial support. Our main findings are: parasocial relationship was consistently correlated with all three types of social support, while social presence was only related with instrumental and financial support; interpersonal attractiveness was associated with emotional and instrumental support and lonely people were more likely to give instrumental support. Our focus on various types of social support in a live streaming masspersonal platform adds a more detailed understanding to the existing literature of mediated social support. Furthermore, it suggests potential directions for designing more supportive and interactive live streaming platforms.