Psychology of YouTube


While searching for information about the psychology behind YouTube, why it has become such a cultural phenomenon, and why we are drawn to this website full of endless videos about nearly any topic under the sun, I came across mainly links to the YouTube website itself. This could be due to the relative newness of the site and therefore little psychological analysis has been completed or just the large amount of videos regarding psychology on YouTube. The abundance of psychology videos includes topics ranging from general lectures to psychology of pop culture and even in-depth scientific explanations of psychological phenomenon. While some people can easily spend hours on YouTube at a time searching through an unlimited supply of funny videos, the average YouTube video gets only 20 hits in the first month. (Robertson) Because the creators of the site made it easy to upload any kind of videos you’d like, many users upload videos not for the purpose of obtaining “hits” on their video but to send home video updates of their children to relatives or to upload a class projects, where the only views are likely to be classmates and teachers. Only around 1% of videos get over 500,000 views. (Robertson) While YouTube has the capability of reaching information overload, in which users are overwhelmed by the enormity of data offered by the site, users seem to enjoy the amount of information available to them with just a push of a button. The site also serves as an instructive interface in which “how to” videos teach viewers skills ranging from makeup application to self-defense moves. Most videos employ strategies including: the “cute factor,” humor, evoking an emotional response, or music. (Cashmore) However, there is no tried and true formula for achieving YouTube success. Videos that are bizarre and offbeat often top the charts in popularity. The unpredictable nature of the website keeps viewers coming back for more and is a large factor in the site’s success.

Works Cited

Robertson, Mark R. “Average Number of Youtube Views In First Month.” ReelSEO
Video Marketing
. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2012.

Cashmore, Pete. “YouTube: Why Do We Watch?” CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Dec.
2009. Web. 08 Nov. 2012.


The Psychology of Facebook

             Technology is changing how we interpret “belonging” to a group; belonging is no longer limited to social invitation and we are linked by Facebook friends and an endless loop of information on our newsfeed. Facebook’s success is linked to its ability to persuade consumers (Fogg).  Once users have been persuaded to create an account, Facebook validates two important social needs: the fundamental desire to belong and self-presentation. (Mehta)

            The desire to belong is innate. The instinct has evolved from a means of increasing one’s chances of survival into more of a social strategy for emotional wellbeing. Facebook enables users to feel more connected to their “friends” despite physical proximity or the status of their relationship with said friend. Even if you’ve grown apart from a pal, you can still be flooded with updates and new pictures thanks to Facebook. The false feeling of closeness provides users with a feeling of popularity and interconnection.  

            In general, humans strive to present themselves in the best light possible. Facebook allows us to create a more idealized version of ourselves and to exclude any negative information we don’t want the general public to see. According to research studies, on average people are fairly representative of their personal traits, including openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion and neuroticism. Researchers are unsure to as whether users simply do not achieve portraying their idealized selves online or if they intend to create an accurate profile of themselves. (O’Callaghan)

            The phenomenon known as Facebook, and other social mediums, have already attracted considerable research; it will be interesting to learn about the psychology of social media on a deeper level. For example, the psychology of being “unfriended” is already being examined. As the first generation where it is uncommon to be without a cell phone or laptop for an extended period of time, I am intrigued to see the long term effects of social media on the ways in which we interact and to see whether the obsession endures.


Works Cited

Fogg, BJ. “Psychology of Facebook.” Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, n.d. Web. 02 Nov.
            2012. <;.

Mehta, Vinita. “Why Does Using Facebook Feel So Good?” Head Games: What Freud
            Never Knew
. Psychology Today, 29 Apr. 2012. Web. 02 Nov. 2012.

O’Callaghan, Tiffany. “The Psychology of Facebook Profiles.” TIME: Health and Family.
            TIME, 3 Dec. 2009. Web. 02 Nov. 2012.