Full day training course offered at Usability Week San Francisco

Website Design Lessons from Social Psychology

The impact of social context on an individual's behavior

Social psychology is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. Increasingly, you’re no longer designing for just one user at a time. People use your products simultaneously, and they interact directly and indirectly with them.

Create substantially improved products and designs by understanding psychological principles and managing the presence of people on your product. 

This course will give you greater insight into how social groups influence an individual's behaviors while they’re using your products. You’ll discover how to get more out of your current user-centered design (UCD) practices and get more competitive advantages from your current design processes.

"Great insight and look into social psychology and how we need to think of our digital users."

Ron Shrewsberry
Hanson, Inc.

Topics covered

  • Learn how user behavior is influenced by others
  • Applying principles for social psychology in shaping your product to encourage users to do what you want them to do
  • User needs (online and offline) within social contexts
  • Motivations and psychological phenomena that occur among individuals and groups of people
    • Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
    • Emotional considerations
  • Predict users’ likely response to new designs based on social connections and influences
  • Importance of user expectations
    • Expectations and intuitive design
    • Violation of expectations
  • Capitalizing upon the shift toward social media and community
    • Attitude change, persuasion, and influence
    • Social proof, credibility
  • Learning and memory (and what happens if your site is not completely intuitive)
    • Learning theory
    • Schedules of reinforcement
    • Superstitious learning
    • Social learning
    • Mere exposure
    • Learned helplessness and withdrawal of effort
  • Judgment and decision-making
    • Applying mental heuristics for fun and profit
    • Group think
    • The risky shift
    • Making choices, what is considered too many or not enough?
  • The relationship between user attitudes and user behavior
    • Cognitive dissonance
    • Self-perception theory
  • Personality psychology
    • Personas
  • Social psychology
    • Power of the situation: Channel factors
    • The importance of construals
    • Group dynamics
  • Social facilitation
    • Use the presence of multiple users to create online social norms
  • Social loafing
  • Diffusion of responsibility
  • Deindividuation: How anonymity can influence behavior
  • Individuation: How identification can influence behavior
  • Stress


The course is mainly in lecture format with a couple of group exercises to reinforce the learned principles and guidelines.

The course also includes:

  • Real-world examples and case studies
  • Screenshots of designs that work and don’t work, and why
  • Explanations and examples of well-known psychology research studies
  • Opportunities to ask questions and get answer


John Boyd

John Boyd is Director of Research for Facebook's engagement team and was previously Manager of User Experience Research at Google. Boyd is the coauthor of the award-winning book, The Time Paradox, which investigates how the psychology of time influences our lives. He has a PhD in social psychology from Stanford University and a BA in economics from UCLA.