Editorial: Focus on media psychology

by Wera Aretz


Everyday life can no longer be imagined without media. Besides classic media like radio, TV and newspapers, the internet with its many applications has widely spread during the last few years. The internet is used in private and professional settings for various reasons and needs (e.g. amusement, information search, communication, self-presentation, dating, shopping). The internet´s relevance for everyday life becomes obvious when looking at current use statistics:

  • At the moment the social network Facebook has more than 500 million active members all around the world (November 2010). Among them, about 250 million users visit the website every day to read or contribute news (Spiegelonline, 2010).
  • There are over 2000 German online dating services. In 2008, the estimated number of members amounts to 54.4 million (Pflitsch & Wiechers, 2009).
  • 34.1 million German internet users bought products online in 2009. In sum 76% of all internet users went online shopping (ENIGMA GfK, 2009).

The risks of internet use have been discussed for more than ten years. Dysfunctional aspects such as excessive internet use resulting in retarded child and youth development as well as the higher risk for the development of mental disorders (e.g. depression, crankiness) or negative results in private life and working environments (e.g. professional failure, isolation or partnership conflicts) are described and empirically analyzed (see Six, 2007). It can be concluded that media influence the human experience and behavior in several ways.

These various human experiential and behavioral processes, which are affected by media, are subject to the present issue on media psychology.

The first two original articles concentrate on online dating services. Peter Michael Bak analyzes how the attractiveness of profile pictures influences profile evaluation, even if these pictures obviously do not show the profile owner. The study by Wera Aretz, Inge Demuth, Kathrin Schmidt and Jennifer Vierlein investigates whether users of online dating services differ significantly from non-users in psychological and socio-demographic variables. Furthermore, the authors try to find a typology of users who use dating services for different reasons.

The third original article by Wera Aretz, Laura Becher, Anna-Luisa Casalino and Charlotte Bonorden investigates whether jealousy in partnerships is influenced by the specific use of social networks and which factors affect the intensity of jealousy.

The concluding article by Dominic Gansen and Wera Aretz deals with one form of excessive and pathological media use, the compulsive buying disorder. This article shows the epidemiology of this dysfunctional behavior and possible activating and maintaining factors for excessive online shopping.

Literature

ENIGMA GfK (2009). Amazon auf Platz eins der Shopping-Webseiten. Verfügbar unter: http://www.gfk.com/imperia/md/content/presse/pm_oss_09_dfin.pdf (16.10.2010).

Pflitsch, D. & Wiechers, H. (2009). Der Online-Dating-Markt 2008-2009. Verfügbar unter: http://www.singleboersen-vergleich.de/presse/online-dating-markt-2008-2009.pdf (05.07.2010).

Six, U. (2007). Exzessive und pathologische Mediennutzung. In U. Six, U. Gleich & R. Gimmler (Hrsg.). Kommunationspsychologie und Medienpsychologie (S. 356-371). Weinheim: Beltz.

Spiegelonline (2010). Facebook. Verfügbar unter:  http://www.spiegel.de/thema/facebook/ (24.11.2010).