Officially launching Media Psychology Services

By Jul.01, 2014

This month we have officially launched Media Psychology Services. We are offering research and consultancy services in user-testing, user experience, and social media analysis and engagement. Our approach to assessing people’s interaction with media takes a 360 approach, which means we like to consider all aspects of people’s media experiences. We’ve visualized our 360 psychology of understanding media experiences below.

Media Psychology Services 360 approach

To give a brief explanation, creativity captures how people have their own ideas about what they want their media experiences to consist of, and we aim to harness this creativity early on in the design process. In fact, creativity is playing out more clearly than ever before in the new media landscape. Our media experiences are also emotional, creating either immediate feelings or longer mood states that our media experiences can instill. Cognition refers to the way the mind processes the information, what we pay attention to, how it is perceived, and what we remember.Attitude refers to our thoughts and evaluations about a product or content; how we weigh up whether something meets our needs and whether it is a worthwhile experience.Identity refers to how a person’s sense of who they are affects their actions and the language that they use, and in the media rich online environment, identity is a shifting concept and more important than ever. Finally context refers to the socio-cultural, historical environment and the physical place in which behaviour is situated.

User experience research and consultancy is on the increase and much of the work appears to focus on the levels of cognition and attitude i.e. can it work and do people evaluate it positively. We argue that good UX needs to be account for the different levels of experience and our 360 approach helps us to get a more complete picture of customers or end-users. Of course these factors interact: the context of web use will affect how attention is allocated, and a person’s identity that is assumed within a particular social network (e.g. facebook) can affect their attitude to a particular brand.

We have a wealth of experience within our team in a wide range of methods.  The grid below shows some but not all of the methods we use. The different methods provide different levels of information, as shown by the green – the more vibrant greens show stronger mapping between the method and the psychological aspect of enquiry.Picture1

The methods we choose depend on what we are studying. If we’re involving users in the design of new products, we may wish to encourage their creativity in activities such as card sorting which allows us to see how people mentally organise concepts – useful for web design particularly – or layored elaboration which involves drawing activities to record thoughts about prototypes.

If we’re evaluating existing products or prototypes, we may wish to choose methods such as observation and eye-tracking to see how people are using them, in addition to measuring indications of their emotional states such as their physiological responses (skin conductance or heart rate), or their facial responses.

If we want to understand more in depth information about the context of use and questions of identity, we may need to take a more qualitative approach and conduct interviews, focus groups or study use in a natural context either online through studying user-generated content (e.g. tweets, shares, blog posts, comments), or in the ‘offline’ physical world by going to where the users are and conducting an ethnographic study.

In summary, what we’re offering is a consultancy service centred on user-testing and social-media analysis to help organisations understand their consumers and communities. There are various ways we can work together, from student live-briefs, which we can offer to our Media Psychology Masters students for free, through to one-off pieces of work, to larger scale projects. We have a range of technology and laboratory equipment to utilize in research and consultancy too.

For further information and enquiries, please contact:

Dr Adam Galpin 0161 295 7146 a.j.galpin@salford.ac.uk

Dr Jenna Condie 0161 295 2806 j.m.condie@salford.ac.uk

 


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