Psychology of sharing and retweeting

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why do people share certain posts?

This article is part 2 of my article Why do people like and share certain things online. In Part one of this article i explained how people only share stuff that matches their core beliefs and supports their existing identities.

Even if a person came across a very funny joke he is very less likely to share it if it goes against his core beliefs.

Today i am going to talk about the psychology of sharing and tweeting from a different angle. Rather than talking about the reasons people share certain posts and don't share other ones i will talk about the reasons sharing happens in general and the forces that motivate people to share stuff rather than just liking them.

Psychology of sharing and retweeting

Ever saw a great movie that you liked then told few of your friends about it?
Remember how excited you were while explaining to them how great the movie was?

In fact the act of telling somebody about something that you liked is equivalent to sharing in the online world. There are two main forces that motivate people to share stuff or tell others about something:

  • 1) See , i am good: People share stuff with others because they get instant satisfaction when others like their stuff. Do you know why people share jokes with others? Its because they want others to laugh at their jokes. For the mind liking what you liked or shared is interpreted as a sign of approval. On the unconscious level a person feels satisfied when people approve the posts he shared
  • 2) The amount of emotional arousal: But there is a tricky question here. Why do you sometimes like posts instead of sharing them? Why don't you share all the posts you like? Its because the amount of emotional arousal needed for a share to happen is much higher than the amount needed for a like to happen. In other words if a post appealed to you but didn't cause much emotional arousal you won't share it

Supporting your opinion

In other cases people share and Retweet posts that support their opinion. This becomes very evident when people talk about politics. Usually the main goal behind sharing something is to prove the other party wrong and to prove the self right. (see also Why do people stick to their incorrect opinions)

In the Solid Self confidence program i said that people want approval and want others to support their opinion. Now when they find a post that supports their opinion they instantly share it in order to feel that they are not alone.

The "see i was right" feeling in such a case is the main reason that motivates people to share such posts.

The dynamics behind sharing each post might be different but the main concept will be the same, the person will always be trying to send a certain message by sharing stuff online.

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