Posts Tagged 'psychology'

10 Social Psychology Tips for Managing Online Communities

Let’s take a scientific approach to managing online communities. The following tips are based on the science that describes the nature of human interactions – social psychology.

1. Beware the Fundamental Attribution Error

Don’t take for granted that a community would understand the motivation of your actions, especially if they don’t like them. The fundamental attribution error describes the fact that most people will assign you bad will and turn away from you, rather than look for external conditions that shaped your decisions. In order to minimize the effect of this error, you need to put a lot of effort into explaining the situation and your motivation. Continue reading ’10 Social Psychology Tips for Managing Online Communities’


Group Theory and the Online Community

Every online community is a group of people. What can the group theory coming from social psychology teach us about managing online communities?

Social Facilitation. This theory assumes that when we are in company of other people we tend to perform better at simpler or well learned tasks and worse when it comes to complex, difficult or new tasks, as compared to performing the same job without other people present. This tendency in behavior may be linked to an increased level of arousal, as we try harder being observed by other people. Continue reading ‘Group Theory and the Online Community’

Five Types of Power and the Online Community

Leadership is about influence, and influence is about power. What are the attributes that can make you influential in the online community? Social psychology provides insight into such attributes by distinguishing among five types of power.

  1. Coercive power. This means the power to punish. It can typically be used in an online community by a moderator, who can ban an account or certain comments.
  2. Reward power. As there are many kinds of rewards, this power can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from a positive comment to financial reward.
  3. Legitimate power. This is the power granted by some kind of authority. On a social networking site, it normally belongs to the organization operating the site, which can define the rules to be followed and execute them.
  4. Expert power. Extremely relevant in the online world, expert power comes from experience or education. If you are recognized as an expert, people will count with your opinion and are more likely to follow your leadership.
  5. Referent power. This is probably the most important type of power in the online communities. Referent power comes from admiration or respect. In the online world without hierarchies and boundaries people with referent power are the most influential ones. This power comes from character, the values and integrity that a person represents. Continue reading ‘Five Types of Power and the Online Community’

Attraction Theory and the Online Community

In social psychology, the theory of attraction describes why we feel attracted to certain people and how we choose friends. It can help us understand how people connect with others in online communities. It can also provide some insights into the traits of effective community managers.

People tend to assign an “attraction rating” to other people they meet, but also to themselves. This rating is then used as a compass when choosing friends and partners. However, we don’t automatically choose the individuals with highest rating as our friends (most of us don’t connect on Facebook with Scarlett Johannson or George Clooney). Instead, we compare our rating with those of other people, and tend to become friends with people who get similar attraction scores to our own.

How do we measure the “attraction rating”? In the physical world, we give points for physical attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, sense of humor etc. In the online world, we would increase the attraction score for popularity (how many RSS readers do you have?), design, contribution to the community etc.

One easy conclusion from this theory is that the more attractive you become in the online world, the more likely is the chance that you will draw other attractive members to join your community.

There are of course other factors that explain how people choose friends, and all of them can be used to increase our chances of creating a vibrant community: Continue reading ‘Attraction Theory and the Online Community’

Attribution Theory and the Online Community

In this new series of posts I will explore what social psychology can teach us about managing and leading online communities.

The Attribution Theory tries to answer the question how we interpret the behavior of people around us. According to this theory, we explain such behavior by attributes: either external factors, such as the current situation, or internal factors, such as intelligence, character or temperament. When assigning these attributes, there are two common mistakes that people make. Continue reading ‘Attribution Theory and the Online Community’