Week 6

The theme of this week’s reading was emerging media psychology. The articles explored psychology in emerging media by focusing on algorithms, branding, politics, and sentiments.

Neubaum and Krämer’s study focuses on social media and perception of public opinion. While the article looks mostly at “likes” and comments, one feature of Facebook that is not mentioned in this study (probably because it either had not come out yet or was very new at the time of the study) is the “reaction” buttons that are now alongside the “like” button. The “like, love, haha, wow, sad, and angry” reaction images provide a quick glimpse into the audience’s opinions, providing more information than just “likes.” For example, if a brand’s posts are consistently getting “angry” reacts, I imagine users would be concerned and turn to the comments to see if there was any explanation for the negative reactions. Additionally, users can use these emotion reactions on each other’s comments—showing what the overall sentiment towards these comments are. It would be interesting if Facebook allowed for the organizing of comments by date or reaction, like Reddit does with its “sort by” option, allowing the user to sort comments by “Live, Top, Best, Q&A, and Controversial.” I think that a study on sentiments in social media incorporating these reactions could be interesting and relevant.

The study conducted in Waddell and Sundar’s article “#thisshowsucks! The Overpowering Influence of Negative Social Media Comments on Television Viewers” concluded that negative comments about television shows cause people to view the shows less favorably. One thing I thought of was—what exactly could networks even do about this? They could somehow delete or restrict negative comments, but this probably would not make commenters happy to see their opinions silenced. They could also somehow highlight positive effects, but the study claimed that positive social media had no effects on viewing a show more favorably, so this also probably would not change anything. Additionally, while I am not sure of this, it seems that people are more likely to leave negative comments and complain when they are unhappy than to leave positive comments when they are happy.

The article “Picture Perfect: The Direct Effect of Manipulated Instagram Photos on Body Image in Adolescent Girls” is, unless if I am misremembering, the first so far that focuses solely on Instagram usage. The article itself points out the fact that Instagram receives “little academic attention,” which I think is unfortunate because the platform has its own culture that is different from Twitter and Facebook. One small issue I had with the study was the conceptualization of “manipulation” of photos. The study used Instagram’s “effects and filters,” but they also edited the photos by “removing eyebags, wrinkles, and impurities,” and slimming down the subjects of the photos. Since Instagram doesn’t really have a way for users to manipulate the photos to that degree, I was left wondering if the researchers used some other photo-editing app, or Photoshop.


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