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The psychology of facebook

January 25th, 2008

I was asked by PARC to present again on the psychology of facebook. (Why do some applications go viral? You can read my speaking notes or watch this 1 min 52 sec screencast that is almost identical in content or grab the slides or handout.) But the main reason to reprise that post is to link to this pdf of my academic research paper, “Six patterns of Persuasion in Online Social Networks.” The paper makes that case that online persuasion follows simple patterns that can be explained with social psychology. Enjoy!

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  1. January 25th, 2008 at 14:19 | #1

    As Joe Six-pack sitting in the audience, “norm of reciprocity” is not in data bank.

    The idea of “patterns of persuasion” is a long way in terms of social acceptability from Vance Packards warnings in “Hidden Persuaders” but probably fits the thesis of Stanley Allen’s “The strip-mining of human nature.”

  2. January 26th, 2008 at 10:33 | #2

    Sorry for the technical term! The norm of reciprocity means that a person feels an obligation to reciprocate an action. For example, if I give you a compliment, you might feel that you should say something nice about me. On facebook, it means that I may feel an obligation to poke you back if you poke me.

    I think that those works that you mention are interesting analogies. Applied social science could indeed be called social engineering. And there are some disturbing potential uses of such a technology. Does it have to be such a dystopic future? I don’t think so, but I guess it could be.

    Thanks for your comment, and I liked your blog too.

  3. May 15th, 2008 at 15:36 | #3

    I’d like to read the paper, but it’s 404ing

  4. May 15th, 2008 at 20:38 | #4

    Thanks Christina, I’ve now fixed the link. It is:


    I’d love to hear your feedback!

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