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This is episode 172 0f the psych files. In this interview, Michael Britt, a psychology teacher hosts Nathalie Nahai a psychologist. Natalie holds a BSc degree in psychology from Birmingham University in the United Kingdom. Michael first interacted with Natalie through Twitter. Nathalie has a website known as ‘the web’ and is also working on a book known as ‘The Psychology of Online Influence’ which will be out later in the year. In this interview, several elements of psychology such as consumer psychology, personality, social psychology and research methodology are put into perspective.

In consumer psychology, the interview focused heavily on reputational capital which is the way we use reputation to increase sales, increase public awareness and generate better business in the long-term. For this case Nathalie gives the example of a certain shop that started an integrated online campaign dabbed ‘The Pizza Turnaround’. They put in systems to monitor the consumer’s comments about the pizzas and they realised that the consumers were not very impressed with the quality of the pizzas.  In this campaign, a documentary style video showing the negative comments of the consumers and the company’s initial reaction to this feedback was used. The results of this campaign are that the company’s sales grew by an impressive 14.3% in the first quarter of 2010. This was a very good improve the image of the company as it showed that it was working to better the quality of the pizzas in order to ensure the consumer was satisfied. in this case of reputational capitalization, personalization of a company is evident.

Personality as Natalie explained plays a very active role in influencing the number of times an application is downloaded from a website or on the amount of sales of a certain product. People tend to buy products that have been rated by people they can identify with i.e. a doctor is more likely to buy a product that has been positively rated by another doctor. As Nathalie put it we are 20% more likely to buy a product that has been rated than the exact same product that has not been rated. People often scan through reviews to find out ‘people like me’ who have positively rated the product. 

On social psychology, they extensively discussed the aspect of Para-social relationships which Nathalie described as the pseudo relationships that we feel that we have with online/video characters. Watching videos makes us connected with the characters and gives us a feeling like we actually know the characters involved even without actually meeting them. Creating good videos and posting them online as Nathalie stated can have a really positive effect for people who want you succeed in doing something  online. This is because this videos showing what you do increases people’s exposure to you and creates personal appeal.

Nathalie explains that psychology is based on the workings of the human mind and it is thus applicable to every type of business and every type of interaction. The principles that measure any type of interaction can be taken directly from research methods in psychology. This in turn explains why research methodology is as relevant even in the design of website as the designer has to research on several aspects regarding the persons targeted by the website. One such thing that needs to be researched on is the culture of the targeted people. Different ages of people from different cultures look at different places/parts of a website. When designing a website, it is thus very important to research and identify which specific part of a website the people you are targeting focus on in order to effectively capture them. Coca cola has effectively done this and has been able to formulate websites that successfully target people with different cultures in the markets they target. The Coca Cola website in the U.S and the Coca Cola website in South Africa look different. Also the Coca Cola website in China and the Coca Cola website in Italy look different. This can be explained by the fact that people in each of these regions have different cultures and Coca Cola had researched on this before designing the websites in order to effectively capture the markets.  

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