Hello Per Kristensson…2015-06-16
Professor in Consumer Psychology and Innovation at CTF, you have participated in Swedish radio concerning a growing trend in social media. Can you tell us about that?
- I talked about why people are becoming more helpful, for example by donating money through social media. The radio show also included a woman in southern Sweden who has received a lot of attention for her initiative on Facebook to help people in economic situations to receive donations in the form of goodie baskets for Friday evening family time.
In what way did you comment on this?
- Lately I have been interested in research on how people regulate their own behavior. One effect that we have seen in some studies is that people often justify one behavior by another. It could mean that if you donate towards a Friday basket in Southern Sweden you will not donate for disaster aid in Nepal. I also spoke about altruistic behavior on social media, that is, when someone helps someone else but does it to get the opportunity of being seen. For humans, it seems as the possibility to donate money to a less fortunate person will in an innocent way show what a great person you are. Some researchers in the US have named this phenomenon narcissistic altruism, which gives an idea of what it is about. Another negative aspect is that activities such as ice-bucket challenge, Movember and to donating money to beggars impose guilt. People who for financial reasons cannot donate may feel compelled to so since the donations are made visible via social media. To summarize, when being helpful for other reasons other than trying to help out, helpfulness is less good.
So, isn’t all these helpful initiative in social media good?
- Yes, absolutely. It is great that we in today’s individualized society acquire forms that allow for collective helpfulness. It is clearly better than none and many campaigns have amounted in large sums of money towards important purposes. I also think it is good that people discover that thoughtfulness and helpfulness makes them feel good. The only thing that might be surprising is that people are surprised by exactly that.