Business Briefs: Sedentary Behavior at Work, Privacy and Personalized Ads, Harassment Training Shortcomings

Welcome to Business Briefs! The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.

Sedentary Behavior

As computers and computer-oriented tasks continue to expand their presence in everyone’s worklife, the workplace grows ever more sedentary. Nearly everything that can be accomplished, can be accomplished from one spot in front of a computer screen. 

It’s widely held that perpetual sedentary behavior isn’t healthy. So to figure out a way to promote a healthier worklife, researchers interviewed 16 subjects to assess their views of sedentariness. They found that:

  1. Everyone could name specific health benefits associated with exercise (increased endurance, etc.); but few could name specific health risks from sedentary behavior. 
  2. Values for health-related activities (like exercise) sometime conflict with other values for family or work commitments.
  3. Attitudes towards health depend on holistic life experiences of each individual.

As a way to better promote healthy habits, the researchers recommend reframing company values in ways that better align with activities required for health.

Read more here

Office Workers’ Perspectives on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour: a Qualitative Study – Lorraine L. Landais et al., BMC Public Health

We Don’t Like Personalized Ads

It happens a lot. One minute we’re asking Google a question, and then the whole next day we’re flooded with advertisements pertaining to that question. And sometimes, those advertisements seem oddly personalized. Does that ad approach work? Or is it creepy?

Researchers recruited 219 students for an experiment. The students engaged in various online tasks, such as reading an article or watching a movie preview. Within the assigned materials were advertisements, some of which were personalized with a name. Then the researchers asked questions:

  1. To measure the student response to name-use in the advertisement, students were asked questions such as, ‘Did the advertisement make you feel like a unique individual?
  2. To measure potential privacy concerns, students were presented with questions such as, ‘Are you concerned about your information collected online?
  3. Finally, the researchers asked how students felt about the ad and the brand more generally after the experiment. 

The student responses indicated that ad personalization makes people more worried about privacy and it can also negatively affect their brand perception…UNLESS, the participants were multitasking and using multiple screens. That activity made them less worried about privacy.

Editorial comment: It’s worth noting that all participants were asked to read an online article about STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) as an initial task. A reader might wonder whether being tracked while reading about that particular topic might impact discomfort levels.

Read more here

Getting a Little too Personal? Positive and Negative Effects of Personalized Advertising on Online Multitaskers – Jihoon (Jay) Kim, Taeyeon Kim, Bartosz W. Wojdynski, & Hyoyeun Jun, Telematics & Informatics

Harassment Training Needs Work 

Noting that incidences of sexual harassment at work have not significantly declined, despite notable increases in programming designed to prevent such harassment, two researchers conducted a literature review of more than 100 studies and investigations to identify factors that are undermining the success of (anti) harassment training. Among their findings, they observed

  1. A heavy emphasis is on legal compliance shifts the focus away from the real problem
  2. Attitudes that fuel harassment cannot change through isolated workshops
  3. Negative attitudes toward required training weaken the effectiveness of any training

The identified solution from the researchers is to implement a cultural change through providing meaningful support to victims. 

Read more here

Sexual Harassment Training: Why it (Currently) Doesn’t Work and What Can Be Done – Alexandra I. Zelin, & Vicki J Magley, APA PsycNet