Your New BFF: Brain Food Fridays

Brain Book Friday graphic

Welcome to Brain Food Friday (BFF), a monthly blog of bite-sized morsels of the latest research on communication and behavior change.

In this edition, we’re serving a buffet of hot topics from artificial intelligence (AI) to reducing inequality.

Navigating the Ethical Landscape of AI in Communication and Research

 Can AI Shift Attitudes on Controversial Subjects?  

  • Significance: AI’s ability to provide immediate evidence for arguments might provide communicators with more opportunities to persuade audiences on controversial subjects like climate change.
  • It’s Not Personal: AI’s impersonal connection could be the key to persuading people to listen to evidence that would be otherwise emotionally charged between two humans.
  • Design Basics:The study took place using GPT-3, an early version of ChatGPT, meaning that today’s AI might be even more effective at addressing difficult topics.
  • Key Takeaway: Participants who reported the lowest levels of agreement with scientific consensus on climate change or Black Lives Matter were far more dissatisfied with their GPT-3 interactions. Yet the chat shifted their thinking on the hot topics. People who were least supportive of the facts moved a combined 6% closer to the supportive end of the scale.

AI’s Impact on Research, Innovation and Scientific Writing 

  • Significance: Just as other sectors are determining how and when to use AI in their work, the research and scientific community is grappling with the appropriate use of the tool.
  • The Upside: The growing use of AI tools is providing unprecedented amounts of access, information, and knowledge, and is accelerating the pace of scientific discovery, enabling researchers to explore new frontiers in various fields.
  • The Downside: AI algorithms can inadvertently produce misleading results and biases, posing a new threat for the authenticity and integrity of research generated with the assistance of AI tools.
  • Key Takeaway: The scientific community is exploring international guidelines that address transparency, reproducibility

The Diversity Among Black Americans and Forgotten Heroes 

Women and People of Color — Unrecognized Heroes 

  • Significance: Heroes fulfil vital cognitive and emotional needs, such as wisdom, inspiration and personal growth. Heroes also serve as drivers for public discourse at times of crisis and function as trailblazers for innovation.
  • Unrecognized: Researchers have found women and people of color remain forgotten as hero figures, since there is a higher tendency to choose white men as preferred heroes.
  • Outdated Stereotypes: Although gender equality and women’s empowerment have made significant progress, males dominate contemporary heroism. Implicit biases and assumptions about gender can influence how individuals perceive heroism.
  • Hollywood Impact: The film industry has influenced and racially polarized the representation of heroes. In movies, the association of “whiteness” is correlated with moral goodness whereas “blackness” is attached to moral ambivalence.
  • Key Takeaway: The systematic under-representation of women and people of color as heroes in history textbooks, popular culture and education is deeply influencing the way that we view their roles and abilities — which weakens their much-needed voices in social change efforts.

New Pew Research Highlights Facts About U.S. Black Population  

  • Significance: Since 2000, the number of people living in the U.S. who identify as Black has increased by 32%. Understanding the diversity of backgrounds and experiences is critical to building deeper relationships and achieving significant impact in communication efforts.
  • The Diversity Among Black Americans: Black Americans have varied racial and ethnic identities and experiences, including Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black people.
  • Youth Matters: The median age of Black people is 32.1 years, nearly six years younger than the overall U.S. population.
  • Key Takeaway: The Black population in the U.S. is rapidly changing, with a growing diversity of culture, education, and geography. That makes it critically important that communicators seek the latest research before designing strategies that could be based on assumptions and stereotypes.

Understanding Alcohol Use and Addiction Stigma 

U.S. Alcohol Consumption by the Numbers 

  • Significance: Alcohol use is changing in the United States, with demographic trends and beverage preferences changing over time.
  • Trends Over Time: Wine consumption has grown, while beer consumption peaked in 1981.
  • Average Consumption: Those over 21 typically have 603 standard drinks a year.
  • Age and Demographic Differences: People over 55 drink more, while young adults drink less.
  • Patterns of Excessive Drinking: People with greater incomes, men and younger adults report higher rates of excessive drinking.
  • Key Takeaway: Alcohol consumption concerns are moving away from teens and young adults to older Americans. Keeping an eye on data is central to understanding how alcohol consumption is changing and which audiences might now need persuasive messaging regarding alcohol use.

Stigma Hinders Women’s Access to Drug and Alcohol Treatment 

  • Significance: Stigma and cultural views are keeping women from seeking drug and alcohol treatment.
  • Barriers: Repercussions, labels and judgement are key reasons women give for not seeking addiction treatment.
  • Professional Biases: Assumptions and threats of child removal hinder mothers from asking for assistance from their primary care providers.
  • Key Takeaway: Acknowledging women’s specific treatment needs is crucial. To overcome obstacles and effectively aid women with addiction challenges, support must include gender- and trauma-informed approaches and nuanced, tailored language.


Check back next month for more tasty treats from your new BFF! Have a wonderful weekend!