A Psychological Perspective Part I

Facebook has been largely acknowledge as the biggest social networking site online. It’s hard to dispute the claims. But the questions is…why? Why is it the biggest, More specifically, why do people use it?

Do answer this, we need to have a look at it from a psychological perspective of human behavior. Using an article by Ashwini Nadkarni  and Stefan G Hofmann, the next three posts will attempt to explain why people use Facebook (and by extension, social networks).

The authors propose 2 basic needs for human interaction as an explanation for using Facebook: ‘(1) the need to belong, and (2) the need for self-presentation. The need to belong refers to the intrinsic drive to affiliate with others and gain social acceptance, and the need for self-presentation to the continuous process of impression management. These two motivational factors can co-exist, but can also each be the single cause for FB use’ (Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

Need to Belong

Imagine being at school, in which you are the outcast from a group of friends. Being ‘shunned’ and alone can have a very negative impact on your self-esteem and confidence, especially at a young age. Self-esteem has been thought to ‘act as a sociometer – a monitor of one’s acceptability to the group’ (Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

In addition, we have to factor in the themes of individualism and collectivism. Collectivism means the relationship between social group members  that places importance on other members. In these communities, the main objective is keeping everyone happy and that individual ‘glory’ is frowned upon. Individualism refers to where personal glory/achievements gain the highest social respect and prestige. ‘No study has examined the difference in FB use between individualistic and collectivistic cultures. We hypothesize that FB use will serve a different function in these culture groups…we hypothesize that members from individualistic cultures are more likely to share private information with their FB friends and are more likely to raise potentially controversial topics as compared to FB users from collectivistic cultures’ (Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

The authors’ review of current literature suggests that this is dependent to a degree on sociodemographic and cultural factors. This means ethical/racial factors play a key role in social relationships, ‘specifically, we found that females and ethnic minorities tend to use FB more often than males and Caucasians in some studies’ (Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

Self-esteem appears to be more prominent in individualistic cultures. And why wouldn’t it be? If you stand out from the crowd, you are a VIP. In collectivist groups, members usually look at the social norms of the group in order to become ‘satisfied’ with their lives rather than on judgement by themselves. ‘People in collectivist cultures, as compared to individualistic societies, are more likely to remain in marriages and jobs that they consider unhappy, possible because they attempt to conform to social norms and perhaps because people in troubled marriages and jobs are more likely to get support from others’ (Diener, cited in Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

It’s been theorised that FB can be seen as a support system for individuals in collectivistic cultures.We can say ‘individuals in collectivistic cultures are more likely to have more frequent interactions and form a close circle of FB friends’ (Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

On a FB profile, users can edit personal information to view. Gonzales et al (2010) did a study, with the results suggesting that looking at such information on a profile page can promote self-esteem and life satisfaction. Why wouldn’t you feel pleased about looking at yourself and seeing all the achievements you’ve gained in life? This is true when it comes to editing what information you choose.

In another study, Yu et al (2010) noted positive feedback between FB use and self-esteem, which they did at an undergrad institution in China. Their results showed FB was beneficial to students to socialise within this environment and their learning outcomes. They based this one two factors: firstly, FB use developed relational links with their peers. I.e. it helped them ‘fit’ into their social group. Secondly, FB allowed for students to ‘fit’ into university life more easily. The reasons for these, however, are socially complex to explain.

There’s evidence to suggest FB use is slightly dependent on ‘disconnection’ (with life), in which there is a greater motivation to use it. Deci & Ryan, 2000, 2008; Sheldon & Gunz, 2009 proposed a theory that is based on human  self-determination. The theory suggests humans have 3 psychological needs: autonomy (self-expressive); competent (effective) and related (connected). We all need to have space to express ourselves, we all need to be effective in our life, and we all need to be be related to something (like a group).

The need to be related has bearing as evidence appears to show that FB use can improve self-esteem due to the increased sense of belonging. Kim and Lee, 2011 conducted a study at a Midwestern university. They researched whether the relationship between FB use and subjective well being in a student group led to an influenced self well being via FB (such as FB friends or profile page). ‘Results showed that both factors had a positive association with subjective well being number. The authors inferred from this that because FB enables visualization of social connections it also validates and enhances users’ self-esteem’ (Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

Ok, that’s enough for part I. Apologies for the wordy posts. I tried to make it as clear as possible so there’s less confusion. Stay tuned for Part II!

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A Helping Hand

It has been said that social networking sites allows for people to share, give and take information provided by other users. For example, you post a question to a problem and (possibly) you will get a response back from the online community. Regardless if the responses are relevant or not, the point is that an online community can be ‘self-sufficient.’

What I mean is that the community can regulate itself within an online space. This brings us onto ‘wikis.’ We’ve all heard of wikipedia; wikis are more specific wikipedia for more specific topics. I would know because I have used wikis when it came to looking at video games (Halo, Team Fortress 2, The Eldar Scrolls series to name a few). Believe me, there are sites like these out there.

Most importantly, they are created and maintained by the online community. Users write and compose articles whilst others edit and manage the site itself. You notice how wikipedia has an edit function? Every piece of information was from a user(s). ‘…although discussing, leveraging, and creating ties between novices and a community of practice can be beneficial for novices, it should also benefit the community of practice. The community of practice should benefit from the contributions made by the novices and, indirectly, from the greater ties and connections that are established with its potential future members…also benefits from the greater, and stronger, ties it may create with a broader sociocultural environment’ (Zagal and Bruckman, 2010: 21).

Essentially, wikis work live a hive. As mentioned by Zagal and Bruckman, each user gives something to the wiki entry, and at the same time the wiki itself benefits from this collaboration and relationship. The more its worked on, the more it can flourish. This is what I called self-sufficient at the beginning. The more dedicated users are, the more extensive the wiki can become.
Using the Halo example, the site has over 8,131 articles since June 2005. Each and every one has been uploaded by a member. The site is very extensive, going into much detail about each game detail, novel and comic of the series. Of course, this will benefit people interested in Halo, yet this demonstrates how ‘novices’ can easily interact with the ‘community of practice,’ and how the community of practice can benefit from novice input.
To see the Halo site for yourself: http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page
facebook article

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335399/

Socially Educational…

Hello folks. Hope you are all good lately.

I went on the internet, and I found thishttp://www.edudemic.com/ (although, more specifically this page: http://www.edudemic.com/2012/12/educational-social-networks/)

The link is a site about ‘connecting education and technology.’ Let’s be honest, this isn’t totally new. Technology plays a large part in learning and developing skills for life in schools/universities. However, I believe, as the site suggests, that the ‘trend’ of a educational social network is beginning to become more prominent.

We all know how Facebook is good at connecting between together. The same principle applies, but now this is restricted to a more educational setting. For example, one of the sites investigated is called ‘Diipo.’ Labelled as ‘education 2.0 social network for your class,’ Diipo is related more closely to Blackboard. Diipo offers ‘community’ tools such as group discussion area, direct messaging, student project management, class rosters, micro logging, a knowledgebase, ability to upload/share files. The site appears to be a simple/secure way to effectively upload digital information for school classes. (http://www.diipo.com/)

Given how my final project is going, I am very interested in theses sites. However, these are more geared to being classroom-orientated (i.e. teacher-student relationship), and less about my idea of sharing and collaborating between teachers. Despite this, I would argue you give these a look at. They exist for a purpose. They clearly have benefits to give.

Because of this discovery, I’ve now added a ‘Useful Links’ page on the bar. OMG! I know, this is a new addition for something that should have been added ages ago. Well, good things comes to those who wait, right? Check it out.

FINAL PROJECT DESIGN

I make it sound like this is the end of the world with the ‘final project design title.’ It is the end…of my MA. (You can come out now from your underground bunker). So in the previous post, I gave a cryptic message about my final project idea. In this post, I will explain what this is.

My idea is to develop a website/social network/online platform hybrid that is aim specifically at an academic market. This is a bold and sketchy statement, so I’ll explain in more detail. Think of Facebook, and how that easily connects millions of people. Think of Valve’s Steam (and if you follow this blog, you’ll know what that is), and how easily it connects millions of gamers. Essentially, I want to take that same principle of connection, but aim it for this market.

Now I know for a fact that academics are in communication with each other, because how can some of the text, journals, articles and reports created without the need for collaboration? Often, academics working on a particular project are separated by geographic barriers. My reasoning is that by providing an online space, could this be made easier. I believe this could be a great opportunity.

I should be clear here. What I’m NOT looking to do is simply create another social networking site. The thing I want to make use of is they way they allow collaboration and participation amongst its users. This is critical for my design. Rather, what I’m trying to do is to create an ‘opportunity’ for like-minded academics to share, talk and collaborate without it being so casual. I’m not asking people to share photos of what they did on Saturday evening.

As of 19/08/13, I have mainly done researching work. This was mentioned in the previous post. I therefore have tried to add more content to the library on relevant topics about collaboration and design in online platforms. It’s a marathon of work, but it is necessary. I can’t say much yet as I’ve not really been digging in (thanks summer holidays), so no such diagnosis on what I’ve discovered. However, I hope to have something to say for you soonish as you’re all cool people. It’s hard work, but not impossible!

 

Back to Reality

Hi guys,

I don’t know why I bother, it’s been so long since the last post you’d be right to assume I was dead. No, I’ve been around, just not enough to post stuff.
It’s been a busy few weeks/months since June, as we get to the denser topics.

By ‘denser topics’, I specifically mean my final design project. That’s right, we’ve almost reached the end of the road for my MA. It’s the final project, where I must research, develop and showcase what my idea. Think of this as like in The Apprentice, where the candidates must develop their own ideas to sell.

For this reason, the aim of this site will change slightly. It’s still going to be dedicated to videogames, but now the emphasis is on research and categorization of any relevant materials to my design. Now I won’t talk about my design here, that’s for a later post. But I will say that the purpose of this site is critical to this project. I made this site for a reason.

The first move was always about researching…because no great idea comes without researching what you’re looking for. How are you going to get the answers you need? How are you going to find out what it’s like for your situation? What relevance does it have? Questions like these can only truly be answered by investigative work.

Over time, I will be adding more content to the library as I’ve been doing. Of course, this will be greatly hindered by the summer holidays as I take a ‘well-earned’ break. Make no mistake, the library I make here will prove a valuable tool.

What I want mention is that whilst the direction of this site will change slightly, I will not lose focus to its original purpose. Anyone interested in the site can still catch up and use any research material they find relevant. I believe it’s good to share, which is the point of a blog right?