Session: Psychology on the web
Have you ever returned an online order because you regret your decision? Or canceled a subscription after realising it’s not worth the money? You probably felt tricked, and you were right-your brain was influenced to take an emotional decision.
The Internet is undeniably a big part of our life: we work, socialise, shop, connect, play, learn and even date online. Even though it might not be that obvious sometimes, there are many decisions we are taking when surfing the web - spending time on certain social media platforms, choosing one search result over another, clicking the call-to-action buttons, skipping content we don’t enjoy that much or buying from a certain store. Just ask yourself - can you be certain that these decisions are uninfluenced and unbiased? That you are not being suggested to buy certain products or services over others? The human brain is an incredible organ - it controls everything you do and every sensation and emotion you feel. Your brain is always concerned with your own wellbeing and because of this it can be vulnerable to manipulation, especially if it is subtle. Using certain triggers, the brain can be tricked, or persuaded to favour one choice over the other - even on the Internet. When used ethically, these triggers bring great advantages to the websites and the companies they represent both in terms of traffic and revenue, without putting a strain on the user, as they simply provide a great web experience. On the other hand, sometimes these are used to manipulate or push the viewer into taking an emotional decision which they might regret later. Starting from your personal experience is the first step, but if you take it forward and think about it at a bigger scale, it makes you picture either great success or very worrisome thoughts. I am certain you already have examples on your mind - hopefully for the ethical uses. Psychology is a powerful tool and when used for the right purposes, subtle changes here and there will get you a long way - whether you want to improve your online presence, business or skills. However, what got me into learning about these tricks is that I wanted to learn how to avoid websites and brands with shady practices, after one-too-many bad experience. Where do we draw the line between what is acceptable to use for an extra boost and what is too much and unethical?
- Our evolutionary roots affect us, even though our behaviour changes and adapts all the time.
- Cognitive biases affect how you think about a website and company and how likely you are to generate sales or talk about them.
- Once you are aware of the cognitive biases, you can start using them in your favour. It is a matter of ethics whether you want to limit their impact or the opposite.
- Techniques relying on using psychology to boost conversions are sometimes taken to the extreme. Most users feel betrayed when they realise it.
- Drawing the line between a little boost and too much manipulation is difficult and a matter of personal boundaries.
Anca is a frontend developer at Cognizant Softvision. She has been working as a programmer in the industry for the past two years and enjoys marketing and teaching code. Anca loves people and listening to their stories, but is also fascinated with nature and taking care of her indoor jungle.