Title: The Paradox of Social Media Virality
Speaker: Steven Rathje
Abstract: I will present the results from a variety of interconnected studies about the psychology of our interaction with technology. First, I will present a study that explores the question of what goes viral on social media. Next, I will present research exploring what people think should go viral on social media, and explain why, paradoxically, people engage with content online that they say they do not like. I will then present the results of a digital field experiment that explores whether aligning people's social media feeds with their preferences about what they want to see has beneficial outcomes. Finally, I will present current and future research directions demonstrating how we can explore these questions on a global scale, and showing how we can enhance our methods for testing these questions using large-language models.