Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session 08: (Social) Media and the World Around Us
Thursday, 07/Sep/2017:
2:00pm - 3:00pm

Session Chair: Silvana Weber
Location: Room CIV 165

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A picture paints a thousand words: Taking “Selfies” strengthens the link between the self and a place

Silvana Weber1, Barbara Stiglbauer2

1Universität Koblenz-Landau, Germany; 2Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Austria

The “Selfie” has become ubiquitous in today’s societies. Research suggests conceptualizing it as an assemblage of four elements: the self, the physical space, the technological device, and the social network. There is evidence that selfies are a form of self-expression, but also that selfie-taking shapes the selfie-taker’s self. We suggest that selfies are an expression of both self and place, and that characteristics of the self are relevant for the places individuals choose to take selfies. Drawing from theory and research in the areas of environmental psychology and social psychology, we argue that when selfie-takers identify with a certain place, they will take selfies that show themselves in that place; in return, taking selfies in a particular place should strengthen the selfie-takers’ identification with that place.

Two experimental studies are presented, with a two-group post-test comparison design. The control group was asked to take pictures of the specific place, whereas the experimental group was instructed to take selfies in the specific place. As dependent variables served measures of the affective, the cognitive, and the conative dimension of feeling linked to a place. Study 1 included n = 130 students, who were instructed to take either selfies at their university, or regular pictures of their university. In line with our expectations, the results indicate that participants in the selfie condition reported higher levels of the affective (sense of belonging) and conative (potential to succeed) dimensions of the linkage in comparison to participants in the control condition. Experimental condition was not significantly related to the cognitive (organizational identification) dimension of students’ linkage to their university. Study 2 was conducted in the public space of a city during the summer months, and included n = 135 passers-by. In addition to the dependent measures (i.e., place identity, place dependence, and affective attachment), task enjoyment was included as a moderating variable. The results indicate that taking selfies was positively (but not significantly) associated with the conative and cognitive dimension among participants who liked the task. However, it significantly decreased the linkage to the city among participants who did not like the task for the conative and the cognitive component. There was no effect for the affective component.

Our results suggest (1) that taking selfies in a particular place strengthens the linkage between a selfie-taker and that place, and (2) that the effect reverses for individuals who do not enjoy taking selfies. This work adds to the sparse quantitative research on the media phenomenon “Selfie” and links different areas of research by combining social and environmental psychological concepts with media effects.

Understanding Poke-Fun: Location-based Play and Nostalgia as New Sources of Video Game Appeal

Daniel Possler, Klimmt Christoph, Lada Tomas

Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media, Germany

Research in media psychology has achieved substantial progress in explaining the entertainment motivations behind video game play. However, technological innovations and resulting new modes, interfaces, and principles of game play continue to generate new challenges to existing models of video game motivations. With “Pokémon Go” (PG; Niantic Games, 2016), a new trend in game technology and design that is typically labelled “location-based gaming” has reached out successfully to mass audiences for the first time (Yang & Liu, 2017). Mobile games such as PG display many conventional features of video games that have been linked to their motivational appeal, such as challenge and competition (e.g., Klimmt et al., 2009) or social interaction (e.g., Yee, 2006). Their innovative features may extend the list of well-known fun factors that explain games’ entertaining appeal.

The present study is concerned with two new sources of video gamers’ motivations. (1) At first, the utilization of smartphone technology and location-based playing principles in games such as PG transforms players’ real-life environment into a virtual playground. Geographical places are assigned new meanings and relevance. The recreational experience of moving physically outdoors (Manfredo et al., 1996) becomes part of the gaming activity and may add to the motivational appeal of mobile games. (2) Moreover, PG connects to a series of video games popular in the 1990s. Hence, players who hold memories of their gaming past may experience nostalgia (Chung, 2016; Wulf et al., 2015) when using “Pokemon Go”, which may add to their entertainment experience. Hence, we investigate whether outdoor activity and nostalgia are new gratifications of playing PG.

An online survey study among heavy and loyal players of PG was conducted in 2016 (N = 2,717). In addition to measures of conventional fun motivations such as achievement, social interaction and immersion (e.g., Yee, 2006; Sherry et al. 2006), outdoor enjoyment and nostalgia were assessed (based on Chung, 2016 and Manfredo et al., 1996).

An exploratory factor analysis revealed that outdoor activity and nostalgia are independent of well-known reasons to play games, i.e., escapism, achievement and social interaction. Participants rated outdoor activity as one of the most important motives of playing PG (M=3.12; SD=1.12) shortly after escapism (M=3.23; SD=0.78). Although the importance of nostalgia (M=2.85; SD=1.25) is just below the center of the scale (3), the motive is nearly as vital as achievement (M=2.93; SD=0.97) and by far more important than social interaction (M=1.60; SD=0.68). Furthermore, a correlation analysis reveals that nostalgia is indeed a result of players’ memories of their gaming past, since prior-experience with the Pokémon franchise is strongly correlated with nostalgia (r=.718***).

Findings converge with similar research from Asia (Yang & Liu, 2017) and indicate that the link between mobile gaming and outdoor activity (physical activation, contact with nature, etc.) should be theorized in entertainment research. Nostalgia clearly deserves more attention in the gaming context as well. Overall, the web of relevant game attributes and modes of experience that contribute to video game entertainment seems thus indeed to grow with the advent of mobile gaming technology.

Long-Term Effects of Exposure to Prosocial Normative Information in the Context of Social Networking Sites

Leonie Rösner, Nicole C. Krämer

University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

Social networking sites (SNS) are continuously used by a vast number of people, who incorporate these sites in their daily routine. Since these platforms provide insights about peers’ opinions and actions, scholars have emphasized their potential to influence individuals’ normative beliefs and behaviors, for example, regarding risky health behaviors (Boyle, LaBrie, Froidevaux, & Witkovic, 2016), voting (Haenschen, 2016), or environmental action (Ballew, Omoto, & Winter, 2015).

In the context of prosocial behavior, prior research has shown that social norms have a substantial impact on prosocial outcomes like donations (Nook, Ong, Morelli, Mitchell, & Zaki, 2016) or volunteering (Francis, 2011). However, little is known about the impact of SNS content on changing perceptions of prosocial norms and corresponding behaviors.

Building on social norms research and learning mechanisms proposed in social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986), this work investigated whether a repeated exposure to descriptions of prosocial behavior in status updates influences prosocial normative beliefs and behaviors.

A 6-week online experiment (N = 134) with a between-subjects design and a repeated measures approach was conducted via an online platform, on which participants viewed one status update every day (except on Sundays). Participants were assigned to a high or low prosocial exposure condition and, respectively, saw 4 or 2 prosocial status updates per week. In the control group, only status updates about non-prosocial activities were shown. Before and after the 6 weeks, participants’ rated the frequency of their own involvement in prosocial activities as well as their normative beliefs (perceptions of what their friends and acquaintances do, approve of, and expect them to do) regarding everyday helping behavior and civic engagement. In addition, the post-measures included questions on prosocial behavioral intentions and behavioral control as well as an actual donation.

Repeated measures ANOVAs were conducted to investigate changes in prosocial normative beliefs and behaviors as a function of the treatment condition. The analyses revealed no significant interaction effects, showing that prosocial norm perceptions and behavior did not increase more steeply in the prosocial exposure condition compared to the control group. Moreover, there were no differences in prosocial behavioral intentions or the amount of donations made at the end of the experiment. However, participants, who saw prosocial contents evaluated the status updates, and especially the prosocial status updates, more positively and motivating than participants in the control group. In addition, analyses revealed a significant impact of the exposure rate on behavioral control perceptions: significant linear trends indicate that as the number of seen prosocial status updates increased, the perceived control over civic engagement (F(1,131) = 5.995, p = .016) as well as everyday helping behavior (F(1,131) = 8.301, p = .005) increased proportionately. Planned comparisons show that, compared to the control group, perceived behavioral control for civic engagement (t(131) = 2.052, p = .042; two-tailed) and helping (t(66.588) = 2.289, p = .025; two-tailed) were higher for participants who observed descriptions of prosocial acts in status updates, which is in line with Bandura’s concept of vicarious experience as a source of human self-efficacy.

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