Social Interaction Design for Social Media: The Case of Groupthink and Aggression

Tsikerdekis, M. (2013).
Social Interaction Design for Social Media: The Case of Groupthink and Aggression
Dissertation. Faculty of Informatics. Masaryk University.

Social media today play an increasingly important role in computer science, the information technologies industry and society at large, changing people’s everyday communication and interaction. The domain of social media encompasses a variety of services, such as social networking services, collaborative projects, microblogging services and even virtual social worlds and virtual game worlds. There are long established principles, guidelines, and heuristics that apply to social media design and are part of the foundations of human-computer interaction (HCI). For example, in interaction design two set of goals guide the design of systems, usability goals and user experience goals. However, current design and development frameworks are still ill-equipped for the ever-changing online world. Ironically, they fail to take into account the social dimension of social media software. Cracks in the social fabric of a community operating under social media software may have devastating effects, not only to the evolution of the community but also to the longevity of the social media service. As such, social media cannot be developed in isolation, without taking into consideration the social experiences of users. Psychological and sociological principles should become part of the design process of modern social media. My research contributes to this endeavor by focusing on the design and engineering of social experiences on social media services. In my dissertation, I propose that an additional layer be added to the usability and user experience goals. The new layer includes social experience goals, which are further classified as desirable, undesirable and neutral. I produced a new definition for social interaction design that incorporates social experience goals. Building upon previously developed frameworks and models for interaction design, I demonstrated how social interaction design applies to activities such as needfinding, developing alternative designs using prototyping and modeling, developing interactive versions of design and evaluating designs. I presented the benefits of using such framework by focusing on two showcase phenomena deeply rooted in social behaviors - aggression and groupthink. The aim was to demonstrate that social media design and development could be driven by goals that aim to increase collaboration and decrease conflict in a community. I analyzed the effects of different features found in social media today in respect to aggression and groupthink, and found positive evidence to suggest that social interaction, behavior, attitudes and phenomena can be affected by social media design. By examining two vastly diverse social experience goals using quantitative as well as qualitative research methods currently used in HCI, I demonstrated the usefulness of social interaction design in various classifications of social media services such as collaborative projects, social networking sites and even virtual game worlds. In short, I argue that social experience could be engineered through software using the framework I provide for social interaction design.