Media Psychology 101


Self-determination theory highlights the primacy of human connection, a sense of control over one’s actions and the ability to take action and achieve results.1 Recognizing these drivers helps us understand the adoption patterns of new technology and the appeal of technology-driven interfaces that increase consumer control over actions such as information acquisition and purchase paths.

Instinct refers to both research and theory from neuropsychology and evolutionary psychology. It includes the primal reactions from the “fight or flight” syndrome, the need for certainty, and subconscious cognitive frameworks and emotional responses that impact information processing and decision-making.2,3,4 These theories provide insight into how humans innately approach or avoid information and situations in ways that are critical to content creation, product design and consumer experience.

Social influence is encapsulated in a set of principles that describe how innate reactions to the behavior of others influence attributions, reshape perceptions and shift norms. For example, celebrity and popularity confer value on associated products, creating a halo-effect that can influence identity and the sense of affiliation through consumer adoption. Marketers have long taken advantage of the innate tendency of people to feel obligated by “free” gifts.5 The emerging field of influencer marketing demonstrates a shift from traditional authorities to credibility through social proof and access to markets unavailable through traditional channels. Sonnet Insurance, for example, is connecting with Canadians through experience partnerships on Instagram with the Toronto Blue Jays and World Cup Hockey, and encouraging user-generated content.6

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