Dr Zaheer Hussain

Research and Teaching Blog

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Data for sale: Data tracking is a common practice

According to a study conducted by the university of Oxford as covered by Wired Magazine – ‘My Identity for Sale’ (http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2014/11/features/my-identity-for-sale), it’s very easy to identify individuals even when data is anonymised. De-anonymising is even easier when the data is merged with other databases (e.g., purchasing).

The article states that companies are selling your data to others, who then merge the data with other mega-databases thereby identifying you individually and revealing enormous information about your life.

This is all happening quietly without fully informing the public amidst a context of data being lost, sold, combined with other data, and the abuse of the publics right of privacy.

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Smartphone use Media Coverage 2015

It’s been a busy 10 days with a lot of calls and emails regarding my research study. Here are some links to the international media coverage regarding my recent research paper on Smartphone use, Addiction, Narcissism and Personality;

The Guardian: http://bit.ly/1M9sYEO
Yahoo News (India): http://bit.ly/18WncrX
Wired (Deutsch): http://bit.ly/1BVzmhv
Dublin News: http://bit.ly/1ElbmVs
Business Standard: http://bit.ly/17Xu7jC
The New Indian Express: http://bit.ly/1wZL976
Thai Tech: http://bit.ly/1Not2C7
Shiny Shiny: http://bit.ly/1CFDPEV
NDTV.com: http://bit.ly/1ESDPAQ
The Times of India: http://bit.ly/1GpBCys
Deccan Herald: http://bit.ly/1BNwy4z
Guardian Liberty Voice: http://bit.ly/1A395HI
Hindustan Times: http://bit.ly/1Kwf6qR
Mashable: http://on.mash.to/1x8fIYl
ITV Good Morning Britain: http://bit.ly/1DY5Xkr
ITV News: http://bit.ly/1DOQErE
BBC East Midlands Today: http://bbc.in/1B9Bv5P (clip starts at 08:40)
iDigital Times: http://bit.ly/1zNg7PZ
Geek Wire: http://bit.ly/1BTJ188
Metro (Poland): http://bit.ly/1aMoDdb

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Smartphone Use, Addiction, Narcissism and Personality

My latest research paper has recently been published. It’s the first UK-based study on smartphone use and related psychological characteristics. More information below;


There are increasing numbers of people who are now using smartphones. Consequently, there is a risk of addiction to certain web applications such as social networking sites (SNSs) which are easily accessible via smartphones. There is also the risk of an increase in narcissism amongst users of SNSs. The present study set out to investigate the relationship between smartphone use, narcissistic tendencies and personality as predictors of smartphone addiction. The study also aimed to investigate the distinction between addiction specificity and co-occurrence in smartphone addiction via qualitative data and discover why people continue to use smartphones in banned areas. A self-selected sample of 256 smartphone users (Mean age = 29.2, SD = 9.49) completed an online survey. The results revealed that 13.3% of the sample was classified as addicted to smartphones. Higher narcissism scores and neuroticism levels were linked to addiction. Three themes of; social relations, smartphone dependence and self-serving personalities emerged from the qualitative data. Interpretation of qualitative data supports addiction specificity of the smartphone. It is suggested smartphones encourage narcissism, even in non-narcissistic users. In turn, this increased use in banned areas. Future research needs to gather more in-depth qualitative data, addiction scale comparisons and comparison of use with and without SNS access. It is advised that prospective buyers of smartphones be pre-warned of the potential addictive properties of new technology.

Full reference;

Pearson, C. & Hussain, Z. (2015). Smartphone Use, Addiction, Narcissism, and Personality: A Mixed Methods Investigation. The International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, 5(1), 17-32.

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A Qualitative Analysis of Online Gaming: Social Interaction, Community, and Game Design

My latest article has now been published in the International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning;

The popularity of Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) has risen dramatically over the last decade. Some gamers spend many hours a day in these virtual environments interacting with other gamers, completing quests, and forming social groups. The present study set out to explore the experi­ences and feelings of online gamers. The study comprised 71 interviews with online gamers (52 males and 19 females) from 11 different countries. Many themes emerged from the analyses of the interview transcripts including (i) engaging in social interaction, (ii) being part of a community, (iii) learning real-life skills, (iv) gaining in-game rewards, (v) playing never-ending games (vi) escaping from real life, (vii) playing longer than intended, and (viii) being obligated towards other gamers in-game. These findings specifically showed the many positives of online gaming (including the social interaction and the community aspects of belonging) as well as the in-game features within MMORPGs that in some cases can lead to excessive online gaming. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to previous qualitative and quantitative research in the area.

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Survey reveals health and lifestyle trends of gamblers

A survey of 2,000 gamblers has found that British casino game players as a group are no less healthy than the rest of the population, with an average Body Mass index (BMI) of 27; the same as the UK national average. However, the survey found that average BMIs, health and lifestyle choices such as smoking, exercise and drinking varied dramatically depending on the games they play. The survey by Jackpot.co.uk found that slots players are the least healthy.

The findings were as follows;

  • Slots players are most likely to be obese
  • Poker players have one of the lowest BMIs of all gamblers and exercise the most, while nearly three quarters of slots players and video poker players fail to meet recommended guidelines for physical activity
  • Female slots and male poker players all exceed the recommended weekly limit of alcohol units
  • 24 per cent of slots players are regular smokers, above the national average of 20 per cent
  • Out of mobile, desktop and tablet players, desktop gamblers lead the least healthy lifestyles
  • Increasing use of tablets and mobile devices could help get gamers more active

With the increase of mobile technology, there is an opportunity here for research to focus on the benefits of mobile devices and gaming.


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