E-Commerce: How to Increase Conversions Using Psychology

Understanding how psychology affects consumer behaviour and leveraging on it is vital to ensuring success in e-commerce.

Psychology and tablet use

By James Cummings

Conversion rate is a big talking point in the e-commerce niche, and for good reason. All your efforts, including design and marketing, come down to having a customer click the “checkout” and complete payment. The greater the number of people that quit midway through the customer journey the more pressing the need to implement conversion improvement strategies. Unfortunately, more than 70% of companies do not know why 68.61% of customers abandon their shopping cart.

This piece takes a look at psychological angles you may have neglected in your businesses process and why you should get to know them right away.

Use of Decoy Pricing

Have you heard of the economist pricing? Psychologist Dan Ariely put this to test by giving his students two subscription options: Print Only ($59) and Print and Web ($125). Nearly 70% of students chose the cheaper option. However, when a decoy third option of Print Only subscription ($125) was introduced to take the choices to three, 84% of students went with the Print and Web ($125) subscription with the mindset that they are getting a bargain.

E-commerce business owners can deploy this technique to great effect. Introduce a decoy price that will trigger the feelings of getting a bargain in your target audience and you could easily ship off a good number of your harder to sell products alongside your top selling products.

Leverage on familiarity

When people are introduced to a marketing message for the first time, they tend to ignore it or exhibit scepticism (read hostility). With regular exposure to different messages from the same business, their disposition towards the business and their marketing takes a softer turn. This is the technique that has been used by effective email marketers for years. The more times you reach your audience through different means, the higher your chances of conversion. “This method is boosted by branding that is readily recognisable,” says Brendan Wilde at FreeParking.co.nz. “From your domain name to your social media handles, people should be able to quickly deduce what your business is about before they have read your marketing message”.

Cut down on choices

This classic study from 2000 shows that too many choices can reduce conversion by up to 900%. There hasn’t been any modern research to back up or disprove this but the effect is far too heavy to ignore. You should therefore carefully tweak the number of choices you provide your audience with and keep tabs on the impact on conversions.

Condition your customers

You can see it everywhere, from Apple and Mercedes to Waitrose and Walmart. Apple products are associated with luxury and high value. Waitrose and other similar stores like Walmart are associated with cheap. You need to find an association for your brand and consistently communicate it in your marketing messages. This psychological approach tends to have a longer-term effect as it is usually geared towards growing a loyal followership. However, it should also be part of your conversion improvement strategy.

Leverage on authority influence

There is a reason why brands partner with popular celebrities in their marketing messages. Some of these celebrities generate a great deal of positive affect and feelings of trust in large numbers of people, and, thus, them endorsing a brand goes a long way in creating a positive image through association. Additionally, there is always the possibility of taking the marketing message to their loyal followership, sometimes numbering millions across various social platforms.  

This approach also applies to non-celebrities who are popular voices in their niche. This is why many cosmetic lines and electronic and gadgets businesses seek out Vloggers and bloggers, already respected in the niche, to do reviews of their products. The more authoritative and recognised, the higher the influence. This can translate to higher conversion gain for your business.

Highlight Social Proof

Testimonials are still as powerful as ever. Show them off in strategic parts of your website. Think about including video proof. Away from your website, use your social media pages to respond to reviews from satisfied customers. Throw in discounts “for their next purchase”. As other members of your target audience see the social proof, doubts about your brand are eliminated thus driving conversions up.

Leverage on deadlines

When it comes to getting potential customers to buy, time limited offers can be highly effective. The fear of missing out can drive customers faster towards making a purchase. This can also be complemented by decent price markdowns. Scarcity fuels demand and it is demand that turns into sales. Therefore, utilise deadline for your products. With deadlines, people are encouraged to make a decision now.

Diffuse the fear of commitment

When people are about to make a commitment to a product, one of the things they are worried about is losing money. This is why “Money Back Guarantees” tend to work fairly well. However, some consumers are already immune to such guarantees so consider other angles, such as offering 2 or more products for the price of one and throwing in some “extras”. When you want to go with the “money back guarantee” option, make it 100% and make sure there is an address the consumer can physically go to. This brings confidence. When the fear of commitment is no longer there, the chance of conversion is higher.

Understanding how psychology affects consumer behaviour and leveraging on it is vital to ensuring success in e-commerce. It’s not about tricking people. It’s about working with the way our social minds work to communicate your message to people in the most powerful way possible.

7 Ways to turn customers into your biggest advocates

Your brand needs customers who are willing to spread the word about you and your business. You can turn them into your advocates thanks to these tips.

Woman workingYour customers could be your biggest brand advocates if you play your cards right. This is all about building a circle which works: your customers come to you via referral and like what they see. They like it so much that they share it, thus creating more referrals. These 7 ideas can help you to create those brand advocates effortlessly.

1. Create shareable content
Content marketing is huge in business, and there’s a good reason for that. Why should customers come to you instead of the hundreds, or perhaps thousands of competitors out there? Because of your great content. If you create content that is interesting, emotive, and high quality, then people will want to share it. This builds more leads for you immediately.

2. Be an expert
You also should try to establish yourself as an expert. You can do this through your content, by explaining to customers certain things about your industry or giving them advice. Showing that you know everything that there is to know on a subject establishes you as an expert, which makes you a better candidate for business. It makes you the person that they send their friends to when they have a question.

3. Be customer-friendly
Give your customers the products and the services that they want by expanding what you offer and being flexible to their needs. You can run surveys if you are not sure about what your customers want. Sometimes, they just want someone to listen to them – which could mean that your survey does the job even before you act on the results.

4. Use user-generated content
User-generated content can be anything from customer reviews to testimonials to social media posts. Ask for permission to use their content, or simply ask them to create some, and see what happens. Users love it when a brand shares their Instagram photo or highlights their review on the web page. It makes them feel important and increases brand loyalty. They are also likely to share your page again just to show all of their friends that they were mentioned!

5. Aim for excellent customer service
You can’t gain more customers if you are losing the ones you already have because they are dissatisfied with you. Make sure that your customer service experience is exceptional. Give them what they want and when they want it. If something goes wrong, put it right as soon as possible, and offer additional rewards as compensation without having to be asked. Put the customer first at every step and they will soon be sharing you with their friends.

6. Offer incentives
Want your customers to really start advocating your brand? Offer them an incentive. This could be something like free credit when they invite another paying customer, or free gifts. It could be a points system which is raised whenever they post on social media. You could even offer a prize yearly or monthly for your best customer. This will make them want to get sharing more.

7. Be the best
Finally, give customers a reason to become advocates of your brand without all of the above: be the best out there. If you have the top product or service in your niche, with the best quality and the most reasonable price, then they will be happy with their experience. This means more natural shares and better reviews without even having to ask.

With your customers as your advocates, you will find that referrals and conversions soar. We trust the word of a friend more than an advert, so this is the most effective form of marketing out there!

About the author
Cindy Parker is the professional writer and Content Specialist. She loves to write about small businesses, education and languages. Currently, she works for Learn to trade (https://www.learntotrade.com.au/) – a currency trading education company based in Australia.

Finding the right colour for your brand

The colour that you choose to represent your business will have a massive impact on how people perceive your brand. Here’s how it works.

The Psychology Behind Choosing Your Brand’s Colour

When it comes to marketing, it’s essential that your brand – whether it’s website design, customer experience or a small town restaurant – represents the core values of your business, right down to the finer details.

Whilst many people may think that the colour scheme behind a business is just picked out of thin air, or chosen for purely aesthetic reasons, there’s a much greater reason why a specific colour is chosen and it’s all down to what the colour says and how it makes audiences feel.

Colours can have a powerful effect on people, both mentally and emotionally. Certain brands will go for bright and outlandish colours which come across as energised and fun, whilst others may go for darker, bolder colours to portray strength or elegance.

When people make quick decisions about which product to buy, the colours can have a massive part to play in the choice they make. Research by Colorcom found that between 62% and 90% of decisions made are influenced by colour alone, so it’s vital that the colours chosen represent the right tone and personality for your business.

Whilst it’s fair to say the effect a colour scheme will have on people will be rather dependent on individuals’ own personal experiences or influences, a rough generalisation can be made to form a basis on what emotions or responses can be triggered by certain colours.

So, how do you find the right colour to use?

Firstly, you need to fully understand what it is that your business stands for and what its values are. For example, a company specialising in recycling will probably consider going with a green look for their branding because this will not only look and feel like the type of business that they are, but it’ll also be in-line with their ‘green’ message.

The questions that you need to ask are important to how you will define your business going forward. Take time out to consider:

  • The type of brand personality that best fits your business
  • The feelings you want your brand to evoke
  • What you want your customers to associate your brand with

Once you have the ideas to these three questions, you will have a much clearer idea of how you want to be perceived by your audience. Would you say your company is honest and sincere with a feeling of responsibility? Perhaps blue is the colour that best reflects your business as it expresses trust and dependability whilst creating a sense of security.

Blue is commonly used by the professional services sector as it is represents the ability to communicate alongside being able to deliver a reliable and trusted service.

Some examples of businesses that use blue within their branding include Facebook, Intel, American Express, RBS and Twitter. Would you say that loyalty and reliability are correct portrayals of these businesses?

There’s a fun ‘psychology of colour’ quiz from Peppermint Soda which is perfect for anyone looking for some help in finding out what colour best represents you or your business based on what personality or associations your brand has.

About the Author
Ben Martin is a creative director at the PR and creative agency Peppermint Soda.

Psychology is fundamental to every business, especially online

Understanding your customers means you need to understand psychology and demonstrate you have thought about it.

psychologyThe trouble with psychology is that everyone thinks they understand it. That’s because each of us has a brain, every one of us can observe behaviour and we can all think. What more do you need to know?

Well, these days the world of neuroscience is disrupting a great deal of so-called “knowledge” about psychology. Traditional theories of how the mind works are under threat and, thankfully, a great deal of “common knowledge” or “pop psychology” is being debunked. Do you reckon there are “left brained” or “right brained” people? Think again. That’s nonsense; we all use all of our brains. Do you think that we only use 10% of our brains and the rest is “waiting to be filled”? That’s just plain daft and neuroscience shows that your whole brain is being used. After all, it would not make evolutionary sense to create a massive organ, requiring vast amounts of oxygen to keep it alive, only for it not to be used.

More and more of these popular myths are getting debunked at the same time as businesses are demanding to know more about psychology. That’s because some traditional marketing has been based on these out-dated notions of what makes people tick. These days, a business cannot afford to use old-fashioned ideas or poorly substantiated notions. After all, if you say something in a meeting that is based on “pop psychology” someone can look it up on Google on their phone and tell you within moments that you are talking tosh.

Psychology is important in business because every business involves people somewhere – even robots have to be designed and programmed by people. The owners of the Japanese hotel staffed by robots have to understand how people will react with such objects. Understanding people is necessary in sales negotiations, in marketing and in internal communications. Try getting your employees on-side with a major change if you haven’t taken into account how they will react to your plans…!

In the world of technology, it might seem that all that matters are programming, code and data storage. But how people use technology and how they react to it is fundamental if the technology is to engage those individuals. One of the fastest growing areas of work in the high-tech arena is “UX” or “user experience”.

There is hardly an area of your business where psychology does not play a role. In the world of careers exhibitions, for instance, it might seem that all that is needed is an understanding of the space, the lighting and the size of stands that exhibitors might need. As GDH Consulting points out in this article on event psychology, you can use psychological tactics to ensure that people walk around an exhibition in the direction you want, as well as linger over the stands.

Similarly, if you were in the skin care business you would want to make sure that you tapped into psychology, advising people on the psychological reasons for looking after their skin. In doing so you help customers understand the issues involved, but you would also be demonstrating how well you understood your clients.

If you ran a personal injury law firm, psychology is also important to your business. There can be long lasting psychological impacts of injuries which would mean specific issues for your clients. By showing you understand these issues, you confirm how well you understand your clients.

Whatever business you are in you would also want to ensure that your staff remain well and fit to work. But ensuring that happens means it is essential to understand the behaviour of your employees. These days, for instance, they tend to search for health information on the web, so realising that workplace wellness starts online is fundamental to demonstrating you understand your team. The more you show you understand them, the more they like you and your company.

Even if you are in the technology business, you need to demonstrate a psychological understanding of your sector. As the data company Podbox showed recently, there are psychological reasons for integrating data services. This shows the company understands its customers at a different level to many other technology firms.

Showing that you understand your customers is essential to any business. But these days you need to demonstrate real depth of understanding. It means thinking about the psychology of your products and services as well as the behaviour of your customers when they use or access such things. In order to distinguish yourself against the competition, the main way these days is to show how deeply you understand your customers. That means really knowing what they like, how they behave and what they think. In other words, the best way that businesses can demonstrate they truly understand their customers is to invest in psychological analysis.

Online that means using eye-tracking studies, split-testing things to see likes and dislikes, as well as researching customers through focus groups. The more you can get inside the mind of your customers and not be taken in by the myths of pop-psychology, the more you can provide them with exactly what they want, thereby improving your business.

Is an online persona the same as personality?

PersonasMarketing experts suggest we create “online personas” to represent all the different kind of people who might visit our websites. The argument is, that by creating these cameo portraits of different kinds of visitors we can deliver web experiences specifically suited to each kind of person.

That’s a good idea. People spend only a few seconds on each web page; if it doesn’t “click” with them, they click away.

For example, imagine you run a hotel. Your hotel can offer accommodation, meals, business meetings and conferences as well as weddings and funeral wakes. So, what do you put on your website to attract all the different kinds of people who may want to find out more about your hotel?

Put pictures of business people at meetings and you put off those young brides-to-be. Similarly, fill your website with pictures of brides and you make the people wanting a funeral wake uncomfortable. And for business people, if you have images of people sitting around boardroom tables, you put off those companies wanting a conference.

Of course, you might say that people can home-in on exactly what they want by using the menu or the website search facility. However, people only do this if they are already a customer or use the site regularly. First-time visitors tend to take one look, and if they cannot see “this website is for me” they are out of there as quickly as they came in. This is why many websites have such high “bounce rates”; the website does not match the persona of the visitor.  If your persona is “young bride” you don’t want to see pictures on a hotel website of “middle-aged business man”. Equally, if you are an elderly person who is “recently widowed” you don’t want to see pictures of “young bride” on the hotel website. Matching landing pages to specific personas is therefore fundamental to online success; create the wrong impression and the visitor bounces out.

However, it is easy to confuse “persona” with “personality”. They are not really the same. You may be a “young bride” but you have a completely different personality to another “young bride”. Hence you will react in entirely different ways to web pages compared with another individual. Not only must a web page appeal to the “persona” but it also needs to be attractive to different personalities.

For example, some people are more visually focused than others. That personality type expects lots of pictures on your website. However, someone with a personality which is focused on detail will want to see things that go from “step one” to “step two” and so on.

Not only do you need to appeal to a website visitor persona, but you need to take into account their personality too. The whole issue of persona and personality was taken up in this article, Buyer Persona vs Buyer Personality: What’s the difference?

Online mental models are important for web design

If website visitors cannot rely on their previous experience when visiting your site, they will not consider it innovative

By Liraz Margalit, PhD, Web Psychologist

When designing your customer-facing website, it may be tempting to think outside the box and create a unique and innovative online experience. But this may actually be the least effective and most alienating approach you could take. The reason? Mental models.

The human mind creates images to represent different aspects of the world around us. These stored representations help us to draw conclusions and understand complex ideas. They affect what we notice in complicated situations, help shape our actions and behaviour, and define how we handle and solve problems.

These concepts are integrated into mental models that organize the way we perceive the world. A mental model represents the thought process of how something works. We have a mental model for every aspect of our life: how to behave in a job interview, the ‘format’ of a first date, what a hotel vacation feels like, etc.

Mental models are important because they help us process new information by providing an organized structure for it. For example, when we go to a new restaurant, we know exactly what to expect — sitting at a table, ordering from a menu, waiting for the server to bring food — even if it is our first visit.

When we visit a website, we expect the login area to consist of two labelled boxes of equal size in close proximity one to another. We expect the first box to be for the user name and the second for the password. If this expectation is not met, we may find it difficult to log in properly.

Online familiarity

Without realizing it, we have developed a rich conceptualization of how things work in the online world. In other words, we’ve developed online mental models. We have a mental model of what a homepage should look like, where the ‘Contact us’ link is located, and what a clickable button looks like. If users from different countries are asked to close their eyes and describe an ecommerce site, news site or singles’ dating site, chances are they will agree on the features of each type.

What this means is that if you are planning to launch a new retail site, for example, you must keep in mind that your potential customers will subconsciously compare it to that category’s prototype — eBay or Amazon. Because we retrieve and process information that is prototypical of a category faster than that which is less prototypical, the greater the similarity between your site and these market leaders, the more comfortable — and less likely to bounce — your customers will be.

A key distinction in perception is that between top-down and bottom-up processes. The first are driven by a person’s knowledge and expectations, while the latter rely solely on new input.

If we have created an online mental model, a top-down process is automatically activated as we interact in the online world. It is a cognitive process that flows down to a lower level of function. Guided by prior knowledge, expectations are created so that little input is needed for recognition. In a top-down process, users will feel familiar and comfortable with a new web site after only a brief exposure, because they have general expectations about where to find certain pieces of information even before typing in the URL.

On the other hand, if we are encountering a new structure that cannot be interpreted using our existing model, the senses must provide information to the brain. An example might be the first time we are exposed to a touchscreen on a smartphone or tablet. This bottom-up process requires much more effort on our parts — attention and time that we are not necessarily willing to give.

Our Stubborn Brains

Once created, mental models have a tendency to remain unchanged, even in the face of contradictory information. Our mental models affect the way we accept or reject new conceptual models. Our brain likes to identify familiar patterns around us. We are wired to search for those patterns that led to successful interactions in the past (falling in love, completing a successful negotiation, gambling, investing, etc.). The more familiar we are with something, the less cognitive effort we must invest in finding the correct reaction.

If website visitors cannot rely on their previous experience when visiting your site, they will not consider it innovative. Rather, they will wonder why things are not where they are supposed to be. If you want people to feel good about interacting with your products or brand, you have to ensure that the surface elements match their online mental models so they can be quickly and accurately interpreted.

Businesses must design interactive experiences that take into consideration the limitations of the human cognitive system. Designing web pages according to users’ mental models accelerates orientation, enhances memorability of web-object locations and even affects user interactions.

About the Author
Liraz Margalit is a web psychologist working for Clicktale, the company that converts behaviour into business.

The Psychology of Social Media: Why We Tweet and Who Doesn’t

The Psychology of Social Media: Why We Tweet and Who Doesn’t

As of 2013, Facebook claims to have over 1 billion active users. Nearly 30 percent of 18 to 34-year olds check social media before they even get out of bed. Should everyone be worried? While psychological research on social media is still in its early stages, many doctors and researchers feel that it speaks to humanity’s most basic needs – to feel loved, noticed, and important in the world. What they worry about most is the overwhelming amount of information the average person is willing to share with the world, or that the world can now discover anyway. You’ve heard the complaints. People post every mundane detail of their life on Twitter. They post pictures of their food on Instagram. They get in trouble for gossiping or oversharing. Why is it so easy to get addicted? And why do some people abstain?

Is it About Dating?

A study from Stanford University found that single people tended to list more information on their profiles than married ones. In essence, they use social media to convey the most details about themselves possible to potential mates. Consider the huge success of online dating sites. The most recent statistics say 17 percent of all marriages begin as online dating matches, and that number is significantly rising. But how much of this is about the disintegration of social interaction in a face-to-face setting? The internet can inspire confidence in shy people or anybody who lacks the social skills or confidence to meet people in bars. It can also be a breeding ground for lies, scams, and random cruelty. It has been scientifically proven that simply the possibility of falling in love online alleviates feelings of isolation and depression for many people. But these connections ultimately begin on a very superficial level. The couples who succeed are the ones who make it work in person.

Being Shy Online

It might not be shocking that shy people tend to spend more time on social media sites. But you may be surprised that they also tend to have fewer friends and followers. Despite social media being touted as a way to bring introverted people out of their shell, the psychological profiles most people stick to since childhood tend to translate online as well. But that doesn’t mean social media can’t be a positive tool to overcome social barriers for many people, and more therapists are embracing it as a tool to help build confidence in their clients. While shy people may still trail behind in popularity, they do report building closer friendships and finding it easier to engage in conversations. It can be enormously helpful for extremely anxious and shy children who have a critical need for interaction that they can’t always get at school.

Why Narcissism is Still Bad

Everyone is slightly narcissistic, even people who deny it, and social media has a way of validating those qualities. Even people who would have never considered putting important parts of their life on display before can be drawn to the social media atmosphere – the idea that this is now okay, and this is the social norm. The statistics of Facebook and Twitter users are staggering, but 44 percent of Americans still don’t have profiles. Many of them are simply unfamiliar with the sites and unwilling to learn the ins and outs, but many others are simply opposed to losing their privacy or genuinely don’t understand how their life could generate interest. The disparity between people who embrace social media and those who avoid it is a fascinating area for further study.

Technology’s powerful effect on the world is not limited to merely business and science. It’s also changing how people interact, for better or for worse. The study of social media psychology is an interesting look into the human psyche and how no matter what kind of digital age descends, basic needs and desires will always stay pretty much the same.

 

About the Author
Brett Harris is a published psychologist and blogger. A career in this field could be possible by checking out the Top 10 Best Online Masters in Psychology Degree Programs.

Web Safety for Children

Talk to your children to get a grasp about how much they know about online safety such as sharing personal information and which emails they shouldn’t be responding to

By Violet Jones

With so many people having more access than ever to the internet and to write their own material on their own websites as well as monitored blog sites such as Monétisez votre Site, the amount of content in circulation on the web is staggering. The majority of this information can be engaging, fun and informative, however others can take advantage of this spread of information on unmonitored sites. With the much publicised recent hacking of more than 250,000 Twitter accounts, online safety is a highly prevalent issue. Bob Lord, Twitter’s information security director said that the ‘attack’ was not an isolated incident, and believes that other organisations have been recently similarly affected. More children than ever are now using the internet to chat to their friends and for school work and games. They are particularly susceptible to clicking on pop-ups and anything which may be harmful to them and your computer. Here is a list of ways to protecting your children when they are surfing the web.

Firstly, talk to your children to get a grasp about how much they know about online safety such as sharing personal information and which emails they shouldn’t be responding to. Some children will be more knowledgeable than others about what not to do, but as an adult, you should not assume that they will know everything. From this talk, you can evaluate which areas they need to be more educated about.

Talk to them about the dangers of chat rooms and try to persuade them to just talk to the friends online. Tell them not to meet up with anyone they meet online and say why, rather than just giving an order. If they already are using chat rooms and they do come across any offensive communication, save as many details as you can then contact your local law enforcement. Do not delete the information as this will not help the case.

Websites aimed at children should never ask them to disclose any personal information without adult consent. Ask them to tell you when they are asked to give any personal details so you can check whether this would be in the child’s best interests. Use your security blocking capabilities to control which websites your child can use.

Sit down with them and make surfing the web together more of an interactive activity between you and your child. By spending time with them, playing games and looking at websites, you can show them personally anything that they should not be clicking on. This will help them to understand what the dangers you are talking about actually look like.

Keep the computer in a family room so that there is less chance that they will be on their own whilst surfing the web. If they do have any questions or spot something that looks dangerous, you can be there to provide the answers. Also, keep accounts and screen names in your name and not the child’s.

You can also do some research by looking at other options your online service provider may offer such as monitoring and filtering capabilities. Learning more about computers such as what technologies are available and security systems can give you a better understanding of what to watch for.

About the Author
Violet Jones is a freelance copywriter from Brighton. Her passions are writing, social issues and art.

The 4 Dimensions of Personality and What They Mean for Customer Service

By understanding the different dimensions of personality, you’ll be better able to guess whether individual employees will do better in specific types of customer service situations. Read on to learn about various aspects of personality, and what they mean for your employees’ approach to customer service.

By Valerie Cecil

According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, we all fall somewhere on a continuum on four different dimensions of personality. Each dimension has benefits and drawbacks for customer service representatives. Some representatives are better at handling emotional customers, while others are better with customers who know just what they want but need a little help with the details.

By understanding the different dimensions of personality, you’ll be better able to guess whether individual employees will do better in specific types of customer service situations. Read on to learn about various aspects of personality, and what they mean for your employees’ approach to customer service.

1. Introversion versus extroversion: Introverts tend to think before they speak, while extroverts speak first, then think about whether they meant what they said. From a customer service standpoint, it’s better to employ those who think first, but extroverts have certain other characteristics that make them successful in customer service positions too. For instance, while introverts need alone time to recharge, extroverts gain their energy from being around and interacting with others. Introverts enjoy one-on-one customer interactions, while extroverts often prefer making presentations to groups. Both types of individuals can be great at customer service, but if you notice characteristics of introversion or extroversion in your customer service representatives, use this knowledge to your advantage when assigning specific tasks.

2. Sensing versus intuition: Those who are better at sensing tend to live in the present, taking their cues from past experience to create common-sense, practical solutions to problems or issues that arise. Those who are intuitive, on the other hand, prefer thinking about future possibilities, and are imaginative and creative. For customer service representatives, it’s typically a benefit to be sensing, as this type of person is better able to solve current customer needs. Intuitive personalities, on the other hand, can sometimes find creative and unusual solutions to ordinary problems, and can be great at predicting customer needs in the future so as to fill holes you may not even know you have.

3. Thinking versus feeling: Thinking personalities are great at going through information and organizing it into logical categories. They’re able to stay detached where feeling personalities get emotionally involved. Feeling personalities hate conflict and are sensitive to the needs of others. For customer service representatives, both thinking and feeling can be a benefit, depending on the individual customer. Some customers want pure information and analysis, delivered as succinctly as possible, which is a great fit for thinkers, while others need to make an emotional connection to the salesperson or associate, which is where feelers can shine. Having a mix of thinking and feeling personalities on your staff means you’ll have both of these types of customer covered, and be able to call on whomever seems like a good fit for an individual customer.

4. Judging versus perceiving: Judging personalities tend to have a plan going into each new situation, whereas perceiving personalities are much more flexible and willing to adjust based on what’s going on around them. Judging personalities are detail-oriented, which is often a benefit to companies, and they enjoy taking action and working well ahead of deadlines. Perceiving personalities, on the other hand, are comfortable in unfamiliar situations in which they don’t already have a set plan, and work best under the pressure of an impending deadline. Judges, therefore, can often make persuasive salespeople, as they know where they’re headed in each customer interaction, but perceivers are better in unknown situations, such as when a customer is unhappy with a purchase or interaction he or she has had.

About the Author
Valerie Cecil is a research coordinator, marketing specialist and writer for Tissue Paper At Retail Packaging. Her work allows her to investigate many topics, ranging from online consumer relations to effective communication in the workplace. When she is not working, she enjoys kayaking, watercolor, and scouting out the best Tissue Paper At Retail Packaging out there.

Psychological Pitfalls of Online Communication

The psychological aspects of interaction via the internet make for interesting study. On the one hand, people will say they enjoy connecting with people they do not know online because it allows them to be themselves. They say they feel uninhibited; researches agree that inhibitions are often reduced with cyber-communication and have coined the term disinhibition effect to explain the phenomenon.

By Nancy Seddens

The psychological aspects of interaction via the internet make for interesting study. On the one hand, people will say they enjoy connecting with people they do not know online because it allows them to be themselves. They say they feel uninhibited; researches agree that inhibitions are often reduced with cyber-communication and have coined the term disinhibition effect to explain the phenomenon.

Lack of feedback
One reason people feel more open to expressing themselves online is the anonymity it gives them. Unfortunately, this disinhibition effect is not only part of his or her experience but affects everyone online. To some degree, everyone in email, Tweets, Facebook posts and online chat rooms is playing a part. While in some respects people feel safer and therefore more open, they also are unable to judge the intentions, truthfulness and motives of those with whom they are communicating. Tens of thousands of years of learning the subtlety of non-verbal cues fly out the window and only the written word is left to convey meaning.

Without seeing an expression, hearing a tone of voice or being able to judge body language one can literally only read what is being articulated. This presents complications; human beings often say the opposite of what they are truly feeling. This duplicity is often not intentional. In many instances, people are not totally aware of what their true feelings are and therefore are not always able to express them directly. Instead, humans have learned how to interpret subliminal messages to gain insight into the real feelings of those with whom they interact.

Ships in the night syndrome
In addition to the lack of subliminal signals, there is also the time dilemma. Communication online is seldom done in real time. Therefore, in addition to the physical disconnect there is a temporal one as well. Whatever emotions one might feel when posting online may not be reflected at the time a response is received. This is similar to what letter writing was for former generations except in this age we communicate with a larger number of people. Many of those who read our rants and raves are not even people we know. Without a baseline understanding of a person, communicating with them online can be like becoming acquainted by viewing random snapshots of them.

Boundary breakdown
The boundary between our inner self and our public self is reinforced by physical cues presented by our five senses. A sense of us versus them is obvious in-person and to a lesser degree in telephone conversations. The lack of conscious and subliminal feedback coupled with the disruption of a linear continuum blurs the line between private and public self. This can result in what is called “primary process thinking” a state where the thought process is more subjective and emotion-centered. An opening up to the world at large of what would normally be the inner self while becoming anxious and defensive about the seemingly intrusive outer world is the result.

How we as human beings will learn to socially evolve to use cyber communications effectively is something psychologists are interested in finding out. How our psyches adapt to mass personal communication over distance and time, with a largely unknown audience, is something yet to be revealed.

About the author
Nancy Seddens is a freelance writer in southern Ohio and contributor to DegreeJungle.com. While she finds all science interesting, she finds psychology, anthropology and evolutionary science to be the most fascinating.

The Psychology of Colours and Branding

What colours should you use on your website to help convey the right brand image and feeling?

By Grace Maylos

“Brands and colour are inextricably linked because colour offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and message without words.”– Colour Professor Jill Morton

It’s true. Colours create meaning without words. A brief flash of colour can create a wash of chain reactions on a neuronal level that stirs emotion, manipulates motivation, and changes behaviour…all the things that a good marketer wants to do with a brand. We have an immediate sensory and neurological response based on colour that, while it may be somewhat subject to trends, is grounded in an evolutionary historical context. It is critical for any business developing a marketing strategy to pay particular attention to the messages conveyed by the colours associated with their brand. The colours chosen to represent a brand should tap into the psychological representations that we share relating to archetypal colour symbols.

The psychology of colour has been implemented throughout history for a multitude of tasks. Psychiatric wards and prisons have used research on colour to choose wall colours. Flags across the globe have been designed to use an interplay of colours to represent basic principles of national philosophies. Feng shui, the artistic science of environmental influence over life incorporates colour as one of the guiding principles. Colours are even used to unify locally and globally, through initiatives such as the “green movement.”

It may be that colours are, in a sense, visual archetypes. The concept of the archetype was described by Carl Jung. Jungian psychology theorizes that humans all live with unifying constructs that dwell in the human psyche and are based upon the shared evolutionary development of humankind. While Jung’s archetypes describe universal constructs that define human roles or traits, research has reliably shown that colours have standard and typical impacts and meanings across the globe.

The psychology of colour, while easy to understand, is not straightforward. Colours represent dichotomies of positive and negative, with cultural, generational, and commercial variables playing an integral part in the evolutionary representations influencing and motivating our psyche. Obviously, this is critical information for branding of products by companies that want to capitalize on the basic symbolic impressions while recognizing the importance of colour for positioning within the marketplace.

Take, for example the symbolic representations of the primary colours: red, yellow, and blue. The primary colours are pure and powerful. They are the anchors from which other colours in the spectrum are based. Brands using the primary colours convey to the consumer the general principles of purity, honesty, truth, sincerity, and strength. These colours convey meanings that are not muddied, mixed, or diluted.

Specifically, red has historically been a colour associated with fire and romance. It can denote heat, harness the concept of life blood, signify danger, and incite passion. Internationally, red is a highly popular colour and appears in 77 percent of country flags. As Jill Morton explains, it is a colour of extremes. It grabs attention, but when used in branding must be strategically applied. While a company may want its red to say stop and look, it does not want the red to signal danger and promote avoidance.

Blue is a highly versatile colour. It is the colour of nobility (blue blood), calmness, depth, hydration, and cleanliness. While blue is frequently associated with revitalization through beverages, there are no purely blue foods, and therefore it is not a colour highly associated with the appetite. However, blue is a favourite colour among cultures and peoples worldwide, and has a favourable nature in terms of its natural purity and spiritual essence. Blue has become the colour of the common man, the man in uniform and the man wearing jeans to work: the police officer, the farmer, and the trucker. It is easily integrated into branding as a positive influence, but in some cultures also has the dichotomous meaning of sorrow, tears, and depression. This is important for branding specialists to recognize in order to pick hues from the blue spectrum that visually and neurologically tap into the uplifting blues, rather than those shades that bring us down.

Yellow is the colour of the sun. It represents warmth, happiness, courage, and because it is the first colour processed by the eye, is a signal of caution. Yellow will draw the attention of the consumer when used strategically, and conveys positive emotional states including optimism. However, when yellows are dulled, they can lose their positive status and evoke a meaning that turns from an upbeat take notice to a sickly jaundiced feel.

Secondary colours, including green, orange, and purple also leave strong impressions psychologically, although they are not “pure.” Green is the colour of nature. Could it possibly be any more ‘right’ that the colour created from combining the colours in the sun and sky bedecks plant life across the globe? It’s a natural relationship in the master design. Orange is a colour of change. It is somewhat ambiguous and neutral, yet draws attention and is regarded positively. Purple has been adopted as a colour of royalty. It is associated with wealth, intelligence, and spirituality. It is a colour of creativity and mysticism.

From a branding perspective, all the colours can be manipulated in order to strengthen meanings in different directions. A pale yellow creates a vastly different visual experience than a golden yellow. A yellow green has a very different feel than a green heavily mixed with blue. Adding white and black to tint the colour alter the impression further. Finding the perfect colour to represent the brand can be an arduous process that takes a significant amount of research and time. Of course, when the perfect colours have been chosen, there are other factors, beyond the archetypal representations that we share, which may impact the success of a brand in unforeseeable ways.

Take, for example, the McDonald’s yellow ‘M’ on a bright red background that has globally come to represent fast service for inexpensive comfort food. Consider the brand in light of two companies whose national flags are designed with the same colours, China and Vietnam. It is interesting to note that American company McDonald’s has a positive commercial appeal in China and is considered healthy and desirable. And yet this American company has not made in-roads into Vietnam. Other American restaurants including Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken have a presence in Vietnam, but McDonald’s has not. It makes sense from a historically psychological perspective. Perhaps it is simply too much to ask that a country accept a brand whose colours so closely reflects national values and pride, when the brand’s country of origin is representatively tied to so many deaths in Chien Tranh Chong My Curo Nuoc, or the War against the Americans to save the nation. It is simply too much to expect the Vietnamese government and people to be willing to meld their national colours with a brand for cheap American comfort food. So fly high the Vietnam flag, pure and untainted. If you are seeking good old American comfort food in Vietnam, look not for a red and yellow logo, but instead, find a Pizza Hut.

About the Author
Grace Maylos is a freelance writer for Open Colleges. When not working, she can be found blogging about psychology at Cerebral Hacks.

Unplug For a Bit, Your Business Will Thank You

Taking a break from the Internet could actually boost your online business.

By Samantha Gray
These days, it’s hard to ignore the harsh fact that so much of our lives is spent online and in front of some sort of screen. We use an alarm app on our smartphones to wake us; we log in to our email the instant we get to work, and sometimes don’t logoff until minutes before going to sleep—only to get up and do it all again the next day. But what does all of this excess screen time and connectedness mean for you and your business as a whole?

While it may initially start as a way to get ahead, reach a wider audience and provide better customer service, prolonged over-exposure to the digital world can backfire and sabotage all of your efforts, without you even realizing it. Below are just some reasons why you and your employees should all take time to unplug and detach from the digital world.

Give New Life to Content

Although you might not notice it, this repetitive routine is mentally exhausting and demanding. When you’re online, your brain is constantly taking in new information and data and adjusting to various layouts and designs. For your body and mind that can burn up a lot of energy, leaving little creative juices remaining for the actual content of your work.

By taking time to regularly detach from the virtual world, you give your mind a sort of real world “reality check” and are able to revisit content with fresh eyes. This is especially helpful if you find yourself particularly stumped on a specific topic or problem. Giving yourself some time away and then coming back to it allows you to bring fresh perspective and insight to the table. So don’t underestimate the benefits of a calculated break.

Prevent Burnout

In addition to causing stale, stagnant, repetitive content, over-exposure to virtual outlets can cause an all-around digital burnout, which could possibly lead to
stress, anxiety and even depression. So, to proactively ward off these ailments and illnesses give yourself a well-deserved break. You won’t be much good to your company if you can’t even function day-to-day, so prevent that by giving yourself the opportunity to RELAX and detox from the information and devices around you.

This goes along with the old “quality over quantity” adage. People should limit their exposure to useless digital garbage and rather dedicating their time to more
meaningful outlets.

Better Detect Flaws

Just as giving yourself a digital break allows you to come back with fresh, new content, it also allows you to better see flaws in the current system. Getting out of your usual routine, frees your mind to brainstorm and get creative, and even explore things in a different light. This, in turn, is great for any company’s web marketing efforts as it is an ever-evolving field that is always changing.

What was relevant and efficient yesterday, might be obsolete tomorrow, so companies must always be looking forward and adapting.

Overall, the main idea here is to give yourself a break from your usual online, internet routine, to allow yourself more time and energy to for the important things like content development and growth. If you let yourself get bogged down in the minutia of social media, email marketing and more, you will forever stunt the potential you have to grow and change.

Unfortunately, these days, digital abuse and overload is starting at a younger and younger age. College students stay up until the wee hours of the morning studying, socializing and more—all on their laptops and phones—only to go to class and repeat the same thing. Our bodies were simply not made to do this. So, take a stand against this digital epidemic—your company, colleagues and even customers will thank you.

About the Author
Samantha Gray freelances by day and tutors high school and college students in her spare time. Samantha enjoys giving readers advice about the ins and outs of getting your bachelor’s degree online. She welcomes questions and feedback at samanthagray024@gmail.com.

Psychology of Facebook Users

The psychology of Facebook users is now a serious area of study. Here are several posts on the psychology of facebook.

There is a considerable amount being published in mainstream psychology journals on the psychology of Facebook users as well as other social media usage. Here are some of the most recent articles on the subject which provide a variety of insights in the psychology of facebook use.

Self-esteem and Facebook
When used sensibly and in moderation, Facebook is harmless fun, but excessive amounts of time on the site may lead some users to be dissatisfied with themselves. More at The Psychology of Facebook: Self-Esteem | Mind Meditations

Infographic on the psychology of social networking
With 90 percent of U.S. internet users having signed up for at least one social network, and one out of every eight people on the planet active on Facebook, social media has come a long, long way in a very brief period of time….More at The Psychology Of Social Networking [INFOGRAPHIC] – AllTwitter

Why do we like the like button?
It appears that Facebook users of all ages enjoy using the “Like” button, although it is more popular among younger users. In an as yet unpublished study presented at the American Psychological Association convention;…More at The Power of “Like” | Psychology Today

The Simple Psychology of Your Social Networks
Are we friends or aren’t we? Like a BFF, wondering if she’s been replaced, facebook connections (whether from real life or not) will run the deepest and be the most hurt if (more like when) you decide to “unfriend” them. Those darned decisions While the conversation is fun (usually) and informative (almost always), the core users of Reddit take their posting habits very (very) seriously. Srsly. Techie lite?…More at The Simple Psychology of Your Social Networks | The Wandering

The Facebook Self vs the Real Self
Cameron Marlow, in-house research scientist at Facebook, said: “We found that the degrees of separation between any two Facebook users is smaller than the commonly cited six degrees, and has been shrinking over the past three years as More at Psychology of Facebook: The Facebook Self vs. The Real Self

Teenagers and digital technologies
This research explores teenagers’ knowledge representation of six digital technologies – email, IM, internet, digital photos, sms and games. Instead of pre-imposing a specific structure, teens freely express everything they consider relevant by identifying the meanings associated with each digital technology. Drawing on cognitive psychology theories and teenagers’ social development theories, the data from thirteen focus groups were analyzed….More at Teen conceptualization of digital technologies

Emotions and Facebook Users
Facebook users can spread emotions to their online connections just by posting a written message, or status update, that’s positive or negative, says a psychologist who works for the wildly successful social…More at Catching A Mood On Facebook – Science News

 

More Reading

A 10 step plan to Increase the Productivity in your workplace

As a manager or an employee of an internet business we all want to be as efficient as possible but we all know it might be a little hard to do. Sometimes you might actually find your work place is one of the least productive places to get work done. You may spend time researching tips to help you and your team become more efficient, but to take that hard work out your hands we have compiled a list of our top 10 steps to improve your productivity in the office.

By Ami Hassall

As a manager or an employee of an internet business we all want to be as efficient as possible but we all know it might be a little hard to do. Sometimes you might actually find your work place is one of the least productive places to get work done. You may spend time researching tips to help you and your team become more efficient, but to take that hard work out your hands we have compiled a list of our top 10 steps to improve your productivity in the office.

1. Encourage your staff to organise
It may sound very simple, but if you planning your entire day ahead of time you can considerably increase your productivity of the day. By creating a realistic list of goals every morning you are able to plan exactly how to start achieving them. David Allen, writer of Getting Things Done, indicates assessing the optimum length of time you feel each task will require and then arranging it accordingly. To improve the efficiency in your work place, encourage the employees to create plans at the beginning of every day and suggest they break larger projects into more compact, more workable tasks.

2. Encourage an optimistic, social atmosphere
It sounds like a somewhat cliché, but happy employees do work harder. If you like your work and therefore are happy in your working atmosphere, you’ll probably become more focused and concentrated inside your role, so making your staff feel valued and a part of a group can boost their effectiveness and efficiency. Encourage worker interaction, offering praise when someone does well and giving elevated responsibility are key methods to enhance the satisfaction of your staff and therefore increase their productivity.

3. Maintain quality ventilation
A close, stuffy, hot office can result in tired employees who can’t think, can’t concentrate and, consequently, can’t work effectively. Graham Eagles, from Productivity Australia, states so good quality, air could make for a far greater working atmosphere which is “imperative” for companies to think about ventilation and also the building materials that they’re using, verifying the types of materials they use have “low emissions”.

4. Keep current with technology
It’s vital to keep an up to date understanding of recent and evolving technologies. As social networking keeps growing and developing, it’s important when increasing efficiency and it is critical your staff know just how to use it to benefit there working life. And, while printed information continues to have its place, within this digital age it’s great that we have the ability to access information and communicate faster than you ever have before.

5. Provide easy access to fresh water
It’s has been widely recorded that consuming water is essential in looking after yourself. However, if you lack the right amounts of fluids in your system you can massively reduce your productivity. Actually, one study demonstrated that 2-3% decrease in hydration levels will result in “reduced short-term memory, cognitive ability and decision-making abilities, elevated fatigue and significant drops in physical output”. This alarming study has shown how important it is to easily supply water to your staff and encourage them to drink water throughout the day.

6. Provide use of an array of snacks
Everybody knows how annoying and distracting hunger can get when you consider how long you have to wait until lunchtime, instead of focusing on your current job roles, productivity could be seriously affected. That is why it’s vital for companies to supply their staff with an array of readily available snacks. A shop or snack machines are perfect methods for supplying the employees with nutrition during the day, ensuring they aren’t depressed by hunger.

7. Make Time for a coffee
Besides the interruption and nice taste, a coffee break can offer a substantial mental boost, delivering a hit of caffeine that provides a number of cognitive benefits. Chris Chatham, writer of Caffeine: A User’s Help guide to Getting Brilliantly Wired, indicates that moderate doses of tea or coffee during the day can offer a increase in energy levels. Consequently, making these drinks readily available and open to staff might help their concentration levels and therefore increase their productivity.

8. Organise your everyday communication
Emails are frequently regarded as something we need to react to immediately. Many people are nearly hooked on awaiting and reacting to new messages and can stop anything they are presently doing to be able to achieve this. However, it’s normally not essential to constantly look at your emails and, rather, arranging time to periodically review and react to messages can curb distractions and enhance concentration.

9. Tidy away clutter
Being an employer, if this involves keeping staff desks tidy, the road between boss and mother is rather precarious. However, it’s been proven that clean, tidy desks promote a elevated productivity and may help enhance concentration. But, although some companies operate ‘lean’ conditions, where workers are banned by using publish-it notes or brining in personal photos, research has proven removing these components can hinder performance, individual touches can really increase productivity by 30%. Therefore it appears it’s about balance, encouraging your staff to have their desks tidy but additionally allow them to personalise their work area, creating an atmosphere they feel that they are truly comfortable in.

10. Create an uplifting music playlist
Unlike popular belief, working alone isn’t always the most efficient option. Rather, music could be a terrific way to enter into your work and may inspire creativeness. Recommending the employees bring earphones to listen is definitely an ideal method of getting around radio politics and may help your employees stop annoying everyone around them. Simply produce a playlist and connect!

About the Author:
Ami is a content writer on behalf of Express Vending, a vending machines supplier who delivers office refreshment solutions in the UK. More of her work can be found on the Express Vending Blog about different aspects of the coffee vending industry.

3 Considerations for Happy, Healthy Online Business Workers

Online businesses need to make the lives of their workers much more enjoyable and healthy

By Lauren Bailey

Operating a business online does have its perks. For example, employees are often allowed to dress in relaxed, casual attire, since they rarely have face-to-face interactions with clients or customers. Doing business solely online can also be cheaper than having a traditional storefront business, because it saves on design and display costs.

However, online work does have a negative side, especially in regards to employee mental and physical health. If you are the owner or manager of an online business venture, it is important to remember the following three considerations, especially if the majority of your employees use the computer to complete over 50% of their work.

Sitting Can Be Deadly
In 2011, the American Cancer Society came out with research results that found that women who sit for more than six hours a day were about 40% more likely to die during the course of the study than those sat fewer than three hours per day; men were about 20% more likely to die. The study was conducted over a 14-year period and involved 123,216 participants. The results of this study have been supported by additional evidence from similar studies that have looked at the negative health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle.

The average online business employee remains seated throughout the entirety of their work day (an average of eight hours), so these new findings are alarming. To lessen the amount of sitting time at work, employers should encourage workers to get up and move around at least once every hour. Another great idea is to provide employees with the option to work at a desk which requires you to stand. In addition to better health, more movement at work could also help you focus by giving you a moment to “step away” from the task at hand.

Too Much Computer Time
Do you remember your mother telling you to sit away from the TV screen or you’ll have to get glasses? Sitting in front of a computer screen all day long is one hundred times worse on your eyes. Chances are, if you sit in front of a computer all day and don’t already have glasses, you will need to get them sooner than later.

Computer screens strain and weaken our vision, and this is especially true for online business employees. Workers should remember to take a break from their screen at least once every twenty minutes. You can also change the angle, brightness and text and image magnification to better suit your vision needs. If there is a glare on your screen, try using an anti-glare covering.

Too Much Computer Interaction and Not Enough Co-Worker Interaction
Online business employees often work independently, even if they have co-workers. A consequence of independent computer work is that colleagues rarely find the time to speak to one another. This means that you could work with someone for years and never really get to know them. It also means that employees can work for days without having a single, meaningful person-to-person interaction. This can negatively affect the health of our minds. Even the most introverted of people need regular conversation with others to stay connected to reality. Online businesses should promote more projects that require teamwork to combat this problem.

By tackling these three issues, online businesses will make the lives of their workers much more enjoyable and healthy. Even if you work as the sole employee of your business or as a work-from-home contractor, making improvements on the above considerations will make your job more rewarding.

About the author
Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, new technology, lifestyle and health. As an education writer, she researches and contributes to a guide to online colleges and welcomes comments and questions via email at moc.liamgnull@99nerualb.

Reference:

 

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/06/24/sitting.shorten.life/index.html

The psychological impact of social media

The online world is affecting us psychologically. This collection of articles shows how.

We are living substantial parts of our lives online these days and the time we spend on social media is having an impact. Here are some of the best articles and a video on the impact of social media on our behaviour.

Inside The Digital Lives of Teens | Psychology Today
Three facts parents should know about social media natives By Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D…. Psychology Today: Here to Help. Agustín Fuentes, Ph.D. Simplistic narratives offered up for who we are and why we do what we
www.psychologytoday.com7/11/12

How Social Media Makes Us Feel Bad About Psychology Today
How Social Media Makes Us Feel Bad About Ourselves. Published on July 1, 2012 by Anonymous in. Cristiano Betta via Flickr Creative Commons As a therapist, I have seen many people lamenting how their own lives pale in comparison to
www.psychologytoday.com7/2/12

The Power Of “Like” | Psychology Today
In a recent study from my lab on the impact of technology and media use on psychological disorders (which formed the basis for my new book, iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us), we John Bunce, Dr. Mark Carrier and I, surveyed 1390 adults about their media usage, their level of “real world” empathy expressed face to face, their empathy expressed in any online modality, and their perceived social support.
www.psychologytoday.com7/15/12

Social Media and Social Loneliness | Psychology Today
“Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” asks novelist and columnist Stephen Marche in an excellent article in next month’s Atlantic. “From Facebook to Twitter,” he notes, “social media have made us more densely networked than
www.psychologytoday.com4/22/12

Censoring social media fans flames of social unrest | Your Psychology
Is social media censorship a means to quell a modern uprising? Some politicians and law enforcers during the political turbulence of 2011 thought so but recent research suggests that uncensored citizens experience less
www.yourpsychology.com7/2/12

Personality Psychology: The Narcissism Epidemic
Speaker: W. Keith Campbell, University of Georgia Session Summary: Is there an epidemic of narcissism? In this talk, W. Keith Campbell will present evidence that narcissism has increased at both the individual and cultural level. Causes of this epide…

These are just a selection, but they show that there is growing evidence that the online social world is having an impact on us psychologically.

This blog post was complied with Content Curation software – CurationSoft.

Trolling can be a reminder of our shadow

The increase in the activity of Internet “trolls” has been highlighted recently. But what does it say about people in general that this can occur?

By John Gloster-Smith
There’s apparently been an increase in the activity of Internet “trolls” in recent years, people who are very abusive online in under-moderated forums, Facebook, comment spaces, etc., usually acting under a pseudonym. There was a BBC TV programme about it this week, which gave examples of, among others, trolls posting on RIP pages on Facebook after someone had died.

Being on the receiving end of it is very much the experience of being bullied and can be a very upsetting and painful experience. So what does it say about people in general that this can occur? It’s an interesting, if rather nasty issue. Of course one might suggest that in some cases the behaviour is pathological and obsessive, a bit reminiscent of stalking, and so I’ll keep my comments to a more broad issue of how people’s covert behaviour towards others is not how it might be when you meet them face-to-face, as was clear in the TV programme, and hence raises a much broader issue for our society.

It might be worth therefore thinking about another situation, driving a car. Have you noticed how people can adopt another set of behaviours when behind the driving wheel to meeting people say at a meeting or even passing people in the street (and the latter can sometimes be similar)? It is striking how people get engaged in all sorts of very un-adult behaviours, such as driving “on the bumper” of the car in front for many miles, racing them, flashing headlights at others, “cutting people up”, gesticulating in an angry or rude fashion, etc, all things we’d be very unlikely to do if we met the other person face to face. In fact have you noticed how, if one driver is likely to draw up next to the other after one of these incidents, they avoid eye-contact?

There is something about the car that insulates people from having to take full responsibility for their actions in relation to another. The more normal agencies of social disapproval are absent. Plus, behind the driving wheel they acquire a power they don’t otherwise possess, or would feel constrained from using by social norms. It can even seem almost like fun – and trollers describe it as fun. Remember how in the Milgram electric torture experiment, once some of the torturers got to administering apparently death-level shocks, they even started to laugh.

It’s like another side comes out, one otherwise kept firmly in control and out of sight. What can be useful is to explore what your fantasies can be in relation to another whom you get angry with. Because trollers seem to be living in a fantasy world, and one which can be really obsessive – one called it “addictive” in the programme.

So with trolling. The medium of the internet insulates one from actual contact with the “victim” and one is free to indulge in one’s fantasies, especially if one lives alone and lacks any other way to mix the fantasy life with the reality of getting on with others, winning friends and influencing people as they say. The more the other party is outraged and behaves the “victim”, the more it happens, a bit like bullying. They say, don’t feed the trolls. There is no need to take responsibility, to be accountable. One can act out one’s power fantasies or one’s desire to harm another in a way that doesn’t, generally, actually result in physical conflict and physical hurt. Often the bully lacks the power and strength and melts away rapidly when confronted by determined superior force. The internet gives a great sense of power to some people, without any moderating force in certain situations.

Of course we can go on from this point and speculate on human nature and whether it is fundamentally potentially evil and, as Hobbes in Leviathan argued has to be constrained in a civil society. Do we have to learn self-restaint and moderation as the price of being social beings? Was Golding right about his portrayal of humans in “Lord of the Flies“, in which children marooned without adults on a desert island revert to “savages”? With the TV programme, I was reminded of adults behaving like nasty children, bullies in the playground. What does all this say about our essential nature?

My response to this is to point out the phenomenon of the Shadow, referred to before in this blog. The disowned shadow side of the ego self can include qualities we aren’t consciously aware of but which we can project on to others, or which can leak out at times. These unintegrated aspects of the self are in principle invaluable to our growth if we become aware of them, explore what they are about and why they are there, and learn to moderate, let go of or utilise them to our benefit in some form. So the “troll” aspect, while very extreme, is a shadow manifestation which needs looking at, were such people to do that of course! So, it is to have compassion, as well as taking necessary action to protect ourselves against such behaviour.

Such manifestations are expressions of pain, and also, according to the Shadow, also a mirror of an aspect of the rest of us. How much, for example, have we as a society in the past bullied and persecuted others? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, Christ said. Or too, before casting out the speck from your brother’s eye, first remove the plank from your own (he was a carpenter!). The essence of Who we Are is love; our Shadow is an aspect of the ego self and in this case reflects ego pain.

About the Author
John Gloster-Smith facilitates people’s personal and professional development, through group facilitation, coaching, mentoring, teaching, writing and blogging. He works from a Humanistic and Transpersonal perspective.  He holds a Post-graduate Certificate in Education and BA (2:1) from Oxford University, and is an NLP Master Practitioner and a member of the Association for Coaching. He provides Executive Coaching services.

Internet Marketing Psychology Helps You Sell More

Internet Marketing Psychology Helps You Sell MoreInternet Marketing Psychology is the concept of understanding how your customers think and behave so that you can engage with them better, please them greatly and ultimately sell more. The idea of using psychology to sell more is not new. Retailers in traditional stores, for instance, use psychological techniques – major supermarkets even employ psychologists to work out where to stock products to gain our maximum attention and how to layout a store so that we fill our trolleys with even more products. So, online, you can use similar techniques to make that what your business offers is more appealing, more interesting and more “buy-able”. Plus you can use psychological methods to get more visitors, gain more attention and keep people interested.

Ultimately people buy products for two reasons – because they have to and because they want to. The “have to” products such as food, drink, housing, heating and so on are still open to psychological persuasion though. Just because you need water does not mean you “have to” buy it from one specific supplier. True you might only get water from your local water company – but you can also get it from dozens of different mineral water suppliers and brands. In other words, you do have a choice even about the most basic of your purchases. And choice can be influenced psychologically. When it comes to products and services which are not essential to our survival, the potential for psychological influence grows massively. After all, you don’t really need the latest cellphone, not really…!

So, what can you do to sell more of the products and services you offer via your websites?

Step One – Understand Your Customers
Before you can try out any techniques of psychological persuasion you need to understand who you are dealing with. What works for one kind of person, does not work for another. True, there are some basics which every sales person can rely on, but each audience you are targeting will have different ways of thinking which you need to know about to maximize your chances of success. You need to understand what your audience does with your website; how long do people look at anything, where do they look, what things do they click on and so on. Your website analytics can provide you with plenty of psychological groundwork. Plus, ask them – conduct regular surveys which find out about the hopes and desires of your customers and potential clients.

Step Two – Focus For Speed
Unlike a traditional store, people can visit a website and depart again within seconds. If they don’t see what they want straight away they leave your site and try to search for another website which will give them IMMEDIATELY what they want. Far too many sites present everything, leaving it for the visitor to hunt down what they want. Online, attention spans are very low indeed – measured in fractions of seconds. If you don’t make it completely obvious what’s on offer, people will wave you goodbye. For many businesses this ultimately means you need a combination of well-crafted “landing pages” for specific products and services as well as a range of “micro-sites” which focus solely on one single product you sell.

Step Three – Engage
The one thing that ultimately drives people is the knowledge that other people like them; we all want to be loved. If you ignore your customers, if you don’t show them you love them, they’ll engage less – even ignore you too. Just imagine yourself walking into a traditional store. You look around, show obvious interest in what you are looking at but the sales staff just carry on, standing in the corner discussing their love-lives. You probably walk out, annoyed and frustrated. When your online visitors are paid no attention by you, they do the same.  So you need to respond to comments, emails, social media mentions and so on as quickly as possible. Preferably, if possible, have a “live chat” system and dedicated phone lines which are clearly displayed. Make it clear to your potential customers that you want to talk with them. Don’t ignore them.

These are the essential components of Internet Marketing Psychology, but there are many more things you need to consider such as the colors you use on your web pages because color influences purchasing likelihood. Also, consider things like the direction people are looking in any pictures you have on your pages. Your visitors will follow their eye-lines, meaning if the images look in the “right” place, you can get more buyers. People looking the “wrong” way in your website images can reduce sales because it forces your website visitors to look away from important and relevant information.

You also need to consider memory triggers, to help increase word of mouth marketing, cognitive factors like the readability of your fonts and the reading age of the text you use, and several other psychologically important elements which in combination will boost your sales. As you can tell, there is a great deal to consider if you wish to sell more online…!

Get your website psychologically analysed

Your website can be put on the couch and analysed by Internet Psychologist Graham Jones…! I will check your site for some basic psychological factors including:

  • Readability and reading age calculation – can your target readers quickly and easily understand your site?
  • Customer focus – does the text focus on what you offer or what your customers can gain from you?
  • Popularity – what makes your website popular and will be people share it and recommend you?
  • Colour value – what will people think based on the colours on your web pages, buttons and on your shopping cart?
  • Eye lines – where will people look on your pages and will they be looking at what you want them to look at?
  • Emotional impact – do your page headings connect at a deep emotional level, or will they pass people by?

For more information or to buy the analysis (starting at just £67) go to http://www.websiteopinion.co.uk/