Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


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If you don’t have an Instagram account. Close this now. Read a different blog on here.

Right, now that I’m speaking to the cool kids.
I feel inclined to say that “this (getting more likes than usual) was just an accident, I don’t actually care about Instagram (or facebook) likes, when I got more likes than usual it just… ya know…happened….
I would be lying. I care, you care, we all care. Even those that post pictures once every three months, they care. When they come back they want their likes to be above a certain number.
Partial evidence of this is that I think we (avid Instagram users) can all relate to that when Instagram got rid of that feature that changes it from “Shaniqua, Raj and Betty liked your photo” into “3 likes”, we all let out a massive sigh of relief.
Why you ask? Because we would no longer stress about getting the vital 10 likes, and desperately hoping for one more person to like the photo so that “Shaniqua, Raj, Betty, Andy, Pistorius, Wilma, Bushdid911, Olatunde, Delroy, liked your photo” would change to the sophisticated “10 likes”. Now we no longer have that worry as the former comes up as “9 people liked this”.
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However, one thing I didn’t answer is why? Why did people let out a massive sigh of relief...?
Because they care! They want to look popular, they want their ego stroked on Instagram, and apparently, this can only be done by getting a sufficient number of likes.
I say they, but really… sadly, I should say “we.
I’ll throw in some context: the other day I decided to make my studies more worthwhile (I am paying £9K!), so I deactivated twitter because quite frankly I was spending more time on that, then I was writing up my Abnormal Psychology revision notes. However, a leopard never changes its spots and in my case, my spots before twitter was procrastination, so guess what? After deactivating twitter, the procrastination stayed.
 So, what does one who wants to spend more time on their studies do?
 They follow EVERYONE (bar the snakes) from high school, sixth form and uni on Instagram, even though they haven’t posted a picture in over a year. No?  that’s not what one would do?
Here’s why, due to following all these people (and here’s another secret, people love being followed, why? Because it means they have a clearer and higher amount of likes they can expect to receive on future photos) I decided I should post a newer picture and revamp my profile. So, I did, I still had revision notes to make but instead I thought of what the coolest picture and caption of me could be, without ya know, sounding toooooooooooooo cringe.
So, then what did I do next you ask? Leave Insta and go back to my responsibilities? No.
 After I established quite a few followers, 40% increase, I decided why just have these followers (who I originally only followed to stalk, we all do it, stop judging me!) when I could also have my ego stroked a little?
So, I posted a photo that I really like.

 Although, I wasn’t sure about the success because it was one I had previously posted on facebook a few months prior, but low and behold, on that picture I got more likes than ever (woohoo!)
Some may say it was all numbers, I had more followers so that would obviously mean more likes.
However, as a psychologist I know it is much…much deeper than that. Purely because, many people have hundreds of followers but don’t have people who engage with them (like/comment on their pictures), so what made my followers engage with mine?
As mentioned earlier, people LIKE to be followed on social media, it provides a sense of security and makes them feel special (I could have followed anyone, but I chose them). Due to these overwhelmingly positive emotions they were feeling, Cialdini would suggest they were acting in line with the reciprocity rule which is seen in all humans, as according to Richard Leakey, who considers the rule of reciprocity as a defining factor of what it means to be human, "We are human because our ancestors learned to share their food and their skills in an honoured network of obligation" (2009, p. 19). Because I followed all these new people and made them feel good about themselves they felt obliged to give something back, and what best to give on Instagram (other than money sent to your PayPal), is a big juicy LIKE.

Moreover, the rule of reciprocity was not the only method being used here, social poof was also present.
Due to Instagram’s lovely social proof features (I’m not getting into that, that’s another blog post, for another day which I, won’t be writing) the fact I was making a comeback was very known, by many people.
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 This feature not only showed other people that their friends followed me, but it also showed them that their friends liked my picture. Regularly coming up on peoples list and people seeing other people’s behaviour towards me, according to Kelman (1958), would have made them more likely to like my picture too. Kelman argued that if the thoughts and behaviours we are seeing are divergent from our own (everyone else liked the photo), we are motivated to act as the majority does, with the assumption that the majority must be correct. People want to be correct, and that suggests why many more than usual liked my picture, they saw liking it as correct behaviour and not engaging as incorrect.
“So, that’s nice and all for YOU but how do I get more likes?” I hear you wail from behind the Koan.
You don’t. The title was just to lure you in and it worked because now you’re at the end of the blog, yaaayyyyy J
Kind of.
According to the reciprocity rule and social proof, you can get more Instagram likes by:
 1) revamping your profile [especially after a hiatus]
2) following lots of new people from similar circles so the activity comes up on the following page of members from said circles i.e. all from your most recent part time job
3) when you decide to follow someone new, like lots of their photos as they will feel obliged to like and follow back, which could be the start of a beautiful new Instagram friendship.
4) when someone likes your picture out of the blue, like one of theirs back, and you will start a liking sequence which you both benefit from
OR in an alternative universe…
5) delete Instagram, make the revision notes you’ve been putting off, and get to a mind frame in which you don’t even care about likes or need your ego stroked.

haha yh right

you can follow me at @Deanneser

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