PsychBook Research

Collecting and analysing psychological research on the most popular social networking site in the world today.

Episode 2 – How Facebook got everyone hooked

Responding to recent controversy about Facebook and ‘addiction’, cyberpsychologist Dr Ciarán Mc Mahon brings expert opinion to the debate by explaining how Facebook has become so popular, and suggesting how users can better manage their use of the site.

In this video release, he breaks down the appeal into 7 key design elements, relating each of them to well-established psychological research findings and concepts: namely, scarcity principle, normative social influence, preference for novelty, diminishing returns & negative automaintenance, variable ratio reinforcement schedule, hyperpersonal communication and flow.

 In addition, he proposes strategies that he recommends users adopt so as to better manage their use of the site, including:

  • ‘you probably have better ways of communicating with the most important people in your life than using Facebook’
  • ‘because Facebook launch new features so often, it’s difficult to get used to: it still feels new
  • ‘It’s socially unfavourable to have more than 500 friends; as a species we’re probably only built for 150-odd, either way, users only interact with a small fraction of their total friends’
  • ‘the News Feed works on the same reinforcing principle as a slot machine’,
  • relationships built online move faster, and become more intense than those initiated offline’
  • ‘why are you online? for a fun diversion! log off when you stop enjoying yourself!’

Episode 2, Part 1a – Principles 1, 2 & 3

Episode 2, Part 1b – Principles 4, 5, 6 & 7

Episode 2, Part 2 – Strategies

Categories: Video