There is a  recent article  on BBC that covers The Psychology Of Facebook course of professor B J Fogg a persuasion psychologist from Stanford. This is a bold attempt to teach psychology of persuasion by taking a real world of Facebook and its viral growth as well as the growth of applications on Facebook.

He says: “When Facebook came along I was one of the developers at the
launch and what struck me was how there was this new form of
persuasion. This mass interpersonal persuasion.”

Professor Fogg says the pivotal moment came when he watched an
application on the site go from “literally zero to more than a million
users in a week”.

“Where on earth could you get a million customers in a week? That was
when I said ‘I want to learn more about this’ and I thought the best
way was to teach a class and look at how persuasion happens.”

There is an interesting case study of why people upload their profile photos:

Today the focus is on the use of profile pictures, the photograph on the front page of every Facebook entry.

The discussion is lead by Psychology Senior Richard Barton, who
maintains Facebook’s high strike rate in this area has to do with the
default picture it puts up if you don’t post your own.

“Who wants a question mark in place of their face and what questions
does that raise about you? Like, why are you on Facebook? And so
basically Facebook sets up an environment where your friends do the
persuading to get you to post a picture.”

This is interesting. Others before Facebook have tried various measures for persuading users to reveal their true identities. A case in point is the tongue-in-cheek ‘anonymous coward’ that is displayed as your user name on slashdot if you do not sign in and give your real user name. I don’t know whether it was the question mark, or because I normally do not value anonymity, but I posted my photo on Facebook as soon as I joined.

BTW, for those of you who want to connect: here is my Facebook profile page and I’ll love to get connected with my readers. Also in case someone is interested my twitter id is sandygautam and you can also follow me there.


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