Monday, April 21, 2008

The facebook persuasion methods

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.


Sphere: Related Content


psicologo milano said...

Thank u for good informations :)

richard said...


This is very interesting with the mass domination of facebook. Apparently it is a massvie hit in the UK (although an original idea from the USA). Id like to explore the ideas about peoples fb profiles maybe testing out the relationship between self and 'online' self. Im sure many people manipulate who they are. Also would like to explore the function of facebook i.e its a social networking facility but why is it so important. Also.... facebook addiction. im sure its going to be the next big problem!

Sandy G said...

Hi Richard,

I agree that facebook online profile is just a persona for the real 'you' and it would be interesting to assess how your real personality stacks with how you present yourself. For example my extraversion scores are low (and I have a facebook app that displays my OCEAN personality as well as MBTI types) but if suppose my profile data showed that I was outgoing , then there is some contradiction. . Facebook data is ripe with such valuable data and one can verify if indeed we do adhere to self-assessment theory or such theories of personality.

Also, I agree that facebook addiction is serious and will be the next big thing!

BJ Fogg said...


Thanks for covering the BBC article in your post.

There are more Facebook topic areas we are covering each week. If you or your readers are interested, you can join the Facebook group for the class:

We keep everything updated on the group page and you can read about what we're doing and how you can participate.

BJ Fogg
Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab