10. Motivational Psychology & Online Marketing

[…] its products set up a chain reaction that has changed social behavior in a way we still don‘t fully understand.

Ian Bogost, award-winning game developer

Motivation is the conscious or unconscious motor for goal-directed behaviour. This applies to all species and goes beyond instinctive behaviour. The cause and effect of motivation is an exceedingly complex process that is explained theoretically in humanistic psychology, depth psychology, behaviourism and other areas of psychology.

Motivation can come from within or from outside. We therefore speak of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. For example, if users enjoy filming and therefore post videos, they are intrinsically motivated. But if users post videos to gain likes and subscribers, they are extrinsically motivated.

Today, motivation theories are applied more than ever, be it in online marketing, in business management, in pedagogy, in the (gambling) games industry – and also in social networks; because motivation is also manipulation.

According to Eyal, the following key motivations form the basis of human behaviour:

Strive for comfort – avoid pain (physical)

Striving for hope – avoiding fear (emotional)

Strive for social acceptance – avoid rejection (social)

The main motivation of the user in social media is – generally speaking – to seek happiness (e.g. being seen, having fun, self-actualisation) and to avoid pain (e.g. remedy for negative feelings, fear of missing out). In the following articles, the motivations, the resulting attention-engineering tools, as well as unforeseen chain reactions to them will be explained in more detail.


Inside the Social Network. (Film)

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