Social Media and Intimacy

Really proud of a paper that just came out with Brandon Reich on intimacy appeals on social media in Journal of Consumer Psychology. You can see it here. We showed that processing fluency is the reason why intimate appeals perform better on social media platforms which people perceive to be intimate. For example, which one of these two would do better on Pinterest:

If you said the “self” one, congratulations. Though highly visual like Snapchat and Instagram, Pinterest is less intimate (which we generalize as interpersonal closeness), so a less intimate appeal is a little easier for your brain to process. It was based on a perceptual map we did as a pilot study:

It’s fun but also challenging to try and understand the differences between social media as different platforms evolve in relation to one another.

Authenticity for Surf Brands

Brand Authenticity is huge, and surf culture has traditionally rejected most attempts at regulation or corporate influence that were perceived as inauthentic. I recently put together some research for a client who was pitching Vans for help funding an independent surf contest. Here is a summary:

Learning from failure

It’s always a bummer when an experiment fails to reject the hull hypothesis. Fortunately I have pretty thick skin. Before my colleague and I eventually found the right stimuli we created plenty of wrong stuff. Feeling especially clever one day, I thought I would prove an interaction (with just the right framing conditions) using nearly identical manipulations:






I thought the presence of two sets of hands (instead of one) would be enough to induce people to think about their relationship with others. Whoops, I was wrong. But being wrong can help steer you toward what is right. Once the full study is published I’ll post the rest of the failed stimuli here…. I think research should be honest, and that it can be enlightening even (and especially) when it stumbles at first. -insert Edison quote on 10000 ways a lightbulb doesn’t work here-

Oxford Internet Institute

2016-07-04 15.25.13I’m halfway through a two-week Summer Doctoral Programme at the Oxford Internet Institute. With 4 to 5 seminars/lectures each day on research findings, methods instruction, and project proposals, it has been equal parts exhilarating and exhausting. Oxford University has such a rich intellectual history and the people at the OII are shaping how researchers and policy makers worldwide are helping us all understand life our increasingly digital milieu.

Track the goings-on with OII SDP on Twitter

Is there any difference between Creating and Consuming on Social Media?


In one of my first journal articles, which can be found here, I explored the difference (in terms of self-reported loneliness) on CREATING social media (commenting, adding a new post, replying to someone, etc.) and CONSUMING social media (reading, browsing, scrolling, liking). I found no difference between the two, because BOTH were associated with decreased loneliness. This is congruent with other part of this study that found an increase in affinity for (and use of) social media was also associated with less loneliness.

Again, there are causality questions: are social media MAKING people less lonely, or are less lonely people just more likely to use social media more often, perhaps since they have more social connections? This is part of what I’ll be investigating with my dissertation, which draws heavily upon Media Multiplexity Theory (like this article). Perhaps, as the above image indicates, there are relevant differences in the specific platforms or devices people use for creating and consuming?

Social Media & Loneliness article in Computers in Human Behavior

That’s the gist of the research Brandon Reich and I did.


In terms of loneliness, Instagram and Snapchat (image-based platforms) offer more social presence than Twitter and Yik Yak (text-based platforms). So Instagram and Snapchat decrease loneliness and increase happiness and satisfaction with life.

For those of us that are visually-inclined, here are some data (full article is here, or email me):

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Below are density visualizations of responses participants gave when asked why they used image platforms versus text platforms. What differences can you spot between the two?

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