The Psychology of Social Media

The Psychology of Social Media is a quite broad topic, so it is narrowed to “How social media is affecting human?” Technology, in general has vast relations with humans. Technology made humans easily connected with greater access to information and studies show that it reduces problems like marginalisation. So, all these are the psychological benefits that counters in human well being and creation of positive society.

• Social media facilitates people to live happy life by creating a network and sense of belonging.

• People find it easy to understand things as it makes sense of environment.

  • It enhances control on self by maintaining uncertainty and control by creating network communities.

There always been some side — effects and challenges for the same.

Confirmation bias: —

In confirmation bias, there is a tendency to seek, interpret and verifying existing beliefs. People seek information in such a way that reinforce their existing beliefs. People tend to engage in confirmation hypothesis testing. An experiment was performed which took people that do not know each other. There was a list of some sampling questions. Before in hand, it was told to the contestant that another person is introvert and to other that he is extrovert, just as a try. It was observed that the contestant asked the questions related to the same notion that he was told earlier. Example: — If he was told that the person is introvert, he asks questions that proved that he was an introvert. The people that were seeing the interview were also driven in the same notion even though they were not told about the pre- existing notion. So, this means if we have a pre- existing belief, we tend to confirm that. Another experiment was performed regarding the weather forecast. It was asked from the group about the climate and what they belief about the climatic conditions that some conditions should be performed in a particular climate. There were some strong believers and some weak believers. The brain activities for these people was scanned. It was observed that when two people agree on the same thing, the brain was encoding what the other person was saying. They become more confident about their ideas. On the other hand, when two people disagree on something, there is binary on and off activity in the brain. So, this showed that it is important to find the common motives. For instance, there was a vaccination in some part for children. The parents were not agreeing on the fact that vaccination is important. So, the doctors came with the idea of same motive as parents that is well being on child. They showed some pictures showing the side- effects that can occur if a person does not get vaccine. Finally, the parents agreed to give their child vaccination. There is also a concept of ‘Filter bubble’. This is a technological term where you are exposed to the news and interests that are in your favour and interests. You are provided options and products based upon your own search history, location, past clicks. There are multiple algorithms that work on this. This closes the updates and refines you to your own beliefs. This is limiting the views and prohibits the other views. It has an advantage too that it comes down to the concept of content narrow but at the same time it is restricted our vision.

Motivated Reasoning: —

If fair information is provided to people, still they selectively evaluate what they agree or disagree. For instance, there was an experiment performed with men and women who drink coffee and who doesn’t drink coffee. They all were given article on women indulging in caffeine and its hazards. After the article, all the four categories were asked about their opinion. It was found that only women caffeine users found it to be non-convincing. So, this means even if people are given information, it is up to them that how they react.

Social Norms: —

Since humans are social creatures, they get influenced by the people around them. Even if we know that something weird is happening around us, still we mould according to that. There was an experiment performed where people were taken under line judgement task. Only one candidate was there on which experiment was performed and others were made to intentionally tell the wrong answers. It was found that he changed his answers according to the answers other people were giving even though he knew the correct answer. In the second round, he was asked to write the answer instead of saying loudly. In this case, he answered the questions more correctly. This means that he did the answers right privately but publicly did wrong. He went with the people around even his eyes said other thing. This is called distortion of judgement.

Group Polarisation: —

If we join an online group, after the discussion you come out by extremes. The reasons may be persuasive arguments, social comparing, or videos. This costs for conspiracy thinking and enable the spread of information. This results in radicalisation and extremism and extreme self-perceptions.

There are some upsides of social media too. It is used to reduce trolling, either by video games by trying social norms of how players treat each other irrespective of race, sex. Secondly, it enables us to engage in political activities, promote community engagement and reduce prejudging. There are some implications of it as well. It reinforces certain behaviour of negative messaging, moral grandstanding and promote disconnect from objective evidence.




Masters in Applied data science, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Data scientist who loves to play with the data and make sense from it.

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Aki Kapoor

Aki Kapoor

Masters in Applied data science, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Data scientist who loves to play with the data and make sense from it.

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