Jeffrey T. Hancock
Jeffrey T. Hancock
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Jeffrey T. Hancock is a communication and psychology researcher and professor. He is a professor in the College of Communication at Stanford University. Hancock is best known for his research in fields of deception, trust in technology, and the Social media and psychology of social media. Hancock has been published in over 80 journal articles and cited in many popular news outlets, including National Public Radio (NPR) and CBS This Morning.
Education and Personal Life
Hancock was born in Canada, though he currently resides in Palo Alto, California. He received his bachelor's degree of Applied Science in Psychology from the University of Victoria in 1996. During his undergraduate college career, Hancock was a Customs Officer for Canada Border Canada Border Service Agency, which introduced him to deception. In 1997, he began his doctoral program in Psychology at Dalhousie University in Canada, from which he would graduate in 2002. From August 2002 to July 2015, Hancock was a faculty member and professor of Information Science and Communication at Cornell University. 
Hancock is married and has one daughter. In his free time, he plays hockey in the goalie position.
Since 2015, Hancock has been a professor in the College of Communication at Stanford University. In his tenure at Stanford University, he founded the Stanford Social Media Lab. This lab, whose publications date back to March 2017, works to understand psychological and interpersonal processes in social media. The lab’s network includes faculty, staff, and doctoral candidates who study social media in various capacities. Some research focuses of the lab include romantic relationships through the use of technology, how new media affects child and adolescent development, gender biases and other social inequalities on social networks, and more. The Stanford Social Media Lab receives funding from the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. Some notable lab alumni include Annabell Suh, Megan French, and David M. Markowitz.
In addition to his research focuses and lab work, Hancock teaches courses during the academic year. During the 2020-21 academic year at Stanford University, some of his course offerings included: Advanced Studies in Behavior and Social Media; Introduction to Communication; Language and Technology; Truth, Trust, and Tech; and six sections of independent study.
Hancock is a communication and psychology researcher who has published over 80 journal articles in his career. His research interests involve studying how language can reveal social and psychological dynamics, including deception and trust, emotional dynamics, intimacy and relationships, social support, and the ethical concerns associated with computation computer science. His work has been published in several notable journals, like the Journal of Communication, and has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Defense.
Hancock is arguably best known for his research and expertise in deception in technology. Through published articles and appearances on talk shows and in news articles, Hancock has established himself as a leading academic figure in this field of research.
In a study published in 2009 in the Journal of Communication, Hancock and his co-author investigated the accuracy of online dating service photographs. The study, whose participant pool included 54 heterosexual dater profiles, found that daters juggle the line between presenting themselves in photos to enhance their physical attractiveness and presenting a photo that would not be considered deceptive. This is just one example of the connection between Hancock’s different research interests, deception and interpersonal relationships mediated through technology. Many of Hancock’s articles involve more than one of his areas of research expertise.
Outside of the scope of communication researchers and academics, Hancock’s work has been able to reach a lay audience through his inclusion in several non-academic presentations of his research. His 2012 presentation at TED (conference), entitled “The Future of Lying,” has been viewed over one million times. In this TED Talk, Hancock details the way that most online, technology-mediated communication is more honest than face-to-face communication. He posits that this can be explained by the permanence of online communication. Before the invention of writing and social media, words were only as permanent as the memory of the people who heard them. Now, technology memorializes everyday interactions and compels us to consider what record we are leaving behind in our online communication. In the 2014 “Why we Lie” episode of NPR’s TED Radio Hour, Hancock also discussed the implications of his research that suggest that technology can actually make us more honest. The podcast episode referenced Hancock’s 2012 TED Talk but expanded the narrative and provided more context to the research backing his claims. 
Considering the permanence of online communication, many employers find that screening a job candidate’s social media is very telling of their character and work ethic. In 2012, Hancock appeared in a segment on CBS This Morning to talk about social media privacy in the job hunt and modern challenges of the digital age after some places of work were reportedly asking job applicants to submit their social media login information for an audit of their account.  This talk show appearance came just a few weeks after Hancock published an article titled, “The Effect of LinkedIn on Deception in Resumes.” That journal article found that LinkedIn profiles and resumes were less deceptive than paper resumes concerning job experience and skills.  Hancock’s published research in this case made him an industry expert in privacy and deception on social media as it relates to the job application and interview process.
In more recent years, Hancock’s research interests have expanded as the world has changed and technology has advanced. In an article published in Social Media + Society in 2020, Hancock and his co-author wrote about the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on older adults. As social distancing is implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, older adults are left facing challenges involving loneliness and a lack of proficiency in digital skills. The article recommends that technology companies make accessibility by older adults a priority in product development to help prevent loneliness and increase media literacy. Implementing those recommendations would allow older adults to navigate easier online and create a richer sense of community for everyone.
- "Jeff Hancock: The future of lying". TED.
- "Jeff Hancock LinkedIn". LinkedIn.
- "Stanford Social Media Lab".
- "Jeffrey Hancock Stanford Course Offerings".
- "Jeff Hancock Stanford Faculty Page".
- Hancock, Jeffrey T.; Toma, Catalina L. (2009). "Putting Your Best Face Forward: The Accuracy of Online Dating Photographs". Journal of Communication. 59 (2): 367–386. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2009.01420.x.
- "Jeff Hancock: Does Technology Make Us More Honest?". NPR.
- "CBS This Morning - Companies want Facebook, Twitter passwords?".
- Guillory, Jamie; Hancock, Jeffrey T. (Mar 2012). "The Effect of Linkedin on Deception in Resumes". Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. 15 (3): 135–140. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0389. PMID 22335544.
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