The psychology behind social media

June 06, 2012

Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, explains the role of social media in society, news, and relationships.

Rutledge says her aim is to use the lens of psychology to look at aspects of media and media technology to understand the impact on people as producers and consumers. She says social media has helped people feel empowered to organize and make changes in their communities.

According to Rutledge, websites like Facebook and Twitter make people feel engaged with issues and like they can have an impact. She says these websites also allow people to remain connected between seeing each other. Rutledge says writing to one another online is the equivalent of writing letters to each other before computers. She says some of history’s most intense relationships played out through the written word.

Rutledge thinks people are drawn to bad news on websites because it plays into survival instincts, and we seek comfort in social media to normalize feelings about trauma.

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