Health Psychology Social Media Trends Essay

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Social Media Trends: Health Psychology

One of the most notable trends in recent years is the rise in interest in the field of popular psychology. People conduct personality tests on themselves, engage in self-diagnosis, and simplify psychological conditions (both common and uncommon) and apply them to their daily lives. The ubiquity of the Internet has made this even more accessible. Although self-help books have been best sellers for more than a hundred years, and even 19th century magazines printed personality self-quizzes, the ease of taking and scoring them online has caused an explosion of self-analysis (Bisceglio, 2017). Although some of the quizzes are clearly silly, others, like online versions of the Myers-Briggs, are also used in a serious setting as a method of analyzing prospective employees. “In-depth psychological assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator began popping up in the first half of the 20th century for the purpose of scanning and sorting employees in industrial workplace,” and despite being “dismissed by the scientific community as unreliable—if not dangerously discriminatory—they, too, have persisted” (Bisceglio, 2017, par.9).

Personality tests promise a very easy and accessible method of understanding the human character and self, in an environment which can be confusing, where there are so many opportunities to challenge conventional notions of selfhood.
Their most severe critics allege these quizzes promote narcissism and encourage the culture’s continued fixation on standardized testing. The use of social media in general, some psychology researchers believe, has had a seismic impact upon how humans cognitively process their environment. According to the Association for Psychological Science, getting appreciation from social media in the forms of likes and comments has an addictive potential: “The same brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate and winning money are activated when teenagers see large numbers of ‘likes’ on their own photos or the photos of peers in a social network, according to findings from a new study in which researchers scanned teens’ brains while they used social media” (“Social Media Likes,” 2018, par.1). Even on a neurological level, when monitoring teens’ brains using MRIs, it has been found that the nucleus accumbens, or reward center, which is already more sensitive in adolescence, shows particularly acute sensitivity in regards to social media posts (“Social Media Likes,” 2018). Social media can also intensify the fraught social environment teens are already grappling with on a regular basis as part of their adolescence.

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Bisceglio, P. (2017). The dark side of that personality quiz you just took. The Atlantic. Retrieved from: personality-test/531861/

Hampton, K, Lu, W., Shin, I., & Purcell, K. (2015). Social media and the cost of caring. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from:

McCambridge, J., Witton, J., & Elbourne, D. R. (2014). Systematic review of the Hawthorne effect: New concepts are needed to study research participation effects. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 67(3), 267–277. Retrieved from:

Social media likes impact teens’ brains and behavior. (2018). Psychological Science. Retrieved
from: teens-brains-and-behavior.html

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