Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Participatory Observations" and Mood Modulation on Social Media

The "Uses and Gratifications Perspective" is a conceptual structure focusing on the kinds of benefits or utilities audience members report they derive from the media they use. This approach originated with early radio audience research done by Herta Herzog in the late 1930s. She studied why people listen to radio programs.

Since then, this perspective has been applied in turn to each new electronic medium. There is a litany of "uses" and "gratifications" including such as "escape," "surveillance or news," and "value reinforcement."  Each new electronic medium has the potential to refine or add to our understanding of a vast field of audience benefits.

When it comes to Facebook, a somewhat recent and highly popular new electronic medium, what are the possible new benefits that users may derive?

Here is a typical kind of posting with follow-up comments found every day on Facebook.

Commonplace happenings are posted and can become the basis for a wider commentary. For a few moments, readers may smile and then add their own responses to what may become an evolving spontaneous narrative.

A simple posting becomes a "participatory observation" with its own narrative structure.  This does seem to fit in the broad uses and gratifications category of "value reinforcement." Yet, the lightness of humor appears to bring a unique flavor to this benefit that we might call "Mood Modulation."

For more perspective on the Psychology of Advertising, please see Advertising and the Arc of History.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.