Psychological foundations of social networking

Kadushin, in Chapter 5: Psychological foundations of social networking, shows three motivations that are always present in social networking: safety, effectance and status.

Dense, cohesive networks can provide the support that is the motivation for safety. I would consider an online support group providing safety to its community. Trust is placed in the community or site as a whole, and participants or members may receive what they need not just from the group leader, but from other members or nodes (p.61).

Effectance is about being motivated to reach out and connect outside one’s comfort zone.  Raul Pacheco-Vega could be considered what Kadushin refers to as a “highly expert network specialist” or broker – “…a professional manipulator of people and information who brings about communication for profit” (p.57).  By helping his online social networking friends, and friends of friends, he builds trust and stability of his online reputation within his community. The benefits include collecting a variety of ‘credits’ for brokering, and new ideas that are available to the group, but it comes at a cost. This effort of brokering requires personality attributes that are entrepreneurial, not always “nice,” and comfortable with aggressively reaching out (pp.63-63). Pacheco-Vega wisely responds to everyone who tweets him first, before generally tweeting to everyone else, while being generous with his support.

Status or rank refer to using the social network or reaching out to “keep up with the Joneses” or for social climbing.  Sharing and creating content, increasing online followers, tweets, and retweets are ways to improve one’s status within an online network.

Kadushin sums up that these motivations “seem affected by cultural and social context” (p. 73).


4 responses to “Psychological foundations of social networking

  • heathergrayblog

    You are always so succinct – you captured it in a nutshell!

  • Hillary Burridge

    Great post, Lenore. Trust is surprisingly common on the Internet. For example, consider buying an item off eBay or Craigslist. There could be scammers out there trying to make a quick buck, but yet the majority of users trust that the product is as described, the seller will ship it and the buyer will pay for it.

  • Andrea

    So Lenore, aside from being asked to participate online through COMM506, what would your motivations be to be involved in social networking? I’m just curious! I really enjoyed this chapter as well and I really appreciate the lens you provided to his chapter.

  • KateInAlberta

    Good summary of key points! Your ability to extract conceptual elements and apply them IRL (in real life) is the sign of a savvy scholar 🙂 … How do *you* navigate your safety and effectance networks…?

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