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Social Media Profiles

Facebook is a social media networking service that currently boasts over 1 billion users worldwide. For this assignment, you will analyze the Facebook page of Jacob Smith.  More specifically, analyze Jacob’s page using: 

•At least three of the theories we explored in this module. Use the theories to describe what you learned about Jacob. •Which of these theories do you find the easiest to apply? Why? •Provide an example of a schema that Jacob demonstrates.

Cultivation theory explains that regular and frequent exposure to certain types of social media information have an effect on a person’s attitudes and behavior. Cultivation theorists believe that social media has effects that are small, gradual, indirect, and cumulative – they add up over time to change a person’s attitudes and behaviors, kind of like a stalagmite building up on a cave floor over the years.

Social learning theory explains that we learn through observation. According to social learning theory, the three pieces of this puzzle are the person, the modeled behavior, and the environment. We form a model of behaviors without needing to actually do it ourselves – we can see someone almost being hit by a car in the street and know that we need to be very careful in the street without being (nearly) hit ourselves. We can watch a YouTube video on makeup application or car repair and then go on to try the process in real life.

Agenda setting theory explains that social media influences people regarding what to think about rather than what to think. This theory holds that social media influences and amplifies our existing beliefs, and that people are willing to look to social media to cue us as to where we should focus our attention. You might see this as waves of people on your social media sites tend to post about similar issues, which gets you (and them) thinking about them more and leads to more posting for a while. Then the attention goes somewhere else. For example, for a while, the gold and white / blue and black dress was lighting up social media sites (google it if you don’t know), which led to a lot of discussions on visual processing and the work our brains do. Then along came the next big item on the agenda.

Uses and gratification theory identifies that people look to social media to escape from challenges or be entertained. This theory assumes that people are not passive, but are actively searching out and using the information they are consuming from social media sites.

Schemas are ways of organizing our world. We all have stereotypes that help us classify people and things. Schemas are not a theory, per se, but an explanation on how our memory organizes information. Jean Piaget developed the use of schemas to explain not only how we categorize our knowledge, but how we utilize that knowledge as well.   For example, if someone asks you to describe a Republican or a Democrat, how would you do that? You may have a particular schema of a person belonging to one or the other political party. Your information on political parties may be extensive or limited, so how you explain a person from each party will reflect that level of expertise. If you were someone who routinely watches a particular 24-hour news network, your schema may change toward a particular party as you assimilate the new information into your original framework (schema) of that political party.   In the same light, viewing the social media networks may alter or accommodate your existing schema to fit the new information.

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