Philipp Kadel, Chair of Health Psychology: Social Media Data (November 2023)

Philipp Kadel has been a research assistant and doctoral student at the Chair of Health Psychology of Prof. Jutta Mata since 2019. Among other things, he is researching the influence of social media on eating behavior. He previously studied psychology at Bachelor's and Master's level at the University of Mannheim.

What is your current research topic?

Generally, I work in Health Psychology, and my research is focused on behaviors that simultaneously benefit our human health and promote environmental sustainability. Examples would be active mobility (e.g., walking and cycling) and eating a meat-reduced diet. Using methods from data science, my colleagues and I investigate social media as informational environments for eating behavior. We are interested in the contents of posts about veganism and in how engaging with social media content can shape offline eating intentions.

For those who have not yet delved deeply into the topic of Data Science: How would you explain to a child what you are working on?

I want to understand how using social media can influence how and what we eat.

Everyone talks about Data Science – how would you describe the importance of the topic for yourself in three words?

Innovative, Interdisciplinary, Insight

What points of contact with Data Science does your work have? Which methods do you already use, and which would be interesting for you in the future?

In our project – a collaboration between health psychologists and web scientists – we employed web scraping methods, network analysis, image clustering, and sentiment analysis to explore social media as informational environments. There are probably numerous opportunities for utilizing artificial intelligence in this context, for example, in continuously monitoring the topics and sentiments of social media conversations over time.

How high is the value of Data Science for your work? Would your research even be possible without Data Science?

Methods of data science allow us to look at questions and topics in (Health) Psychology from completely new perspectives. In my field, the real benefit comes from combining these perspectives with more traditional psychological approaches to gain a more holistic understanding. My research would certainly look very different without data science.

What development opportunities do you see for the topic of Data Science in relation to your field?

I hope that data science will allow us to work with new types of health- and behavior-related data to address questions that, so far, we have not been able to answer.