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Alternate titles: Expression, Personal expression.

Problem summary

We seek opportunities to express our personality, feelings, or ideas

Usage

  • Use when there is a drive for users to to create artifacts that express identity, opinions, and
    affiliations

This card is part of the Persuasive Patterns printed card deck

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Solution

Find ways for users to express themselves. Allowing customization, posting content, commenting, following, sharing, and using emoticons are all ways that enable self-expression. Feedback mechanisms such as comments or likes can work as great rewards for efforts of self-expression.

The psychological drive to create artifacts that express identity, opinions, and affiliations is not new2. Give people a way to express themselves, tapping into the fundamental human motivational drive of self-expression.

  • Allow customization. Find ways for users to add a personal touch to build deeper and longer-lasting engagements. Allow customization, posting content, commenting, following, sharing, using emoticons, etc. to enable self-expression and let users build a stronger relationship to your product.
  • Establish feedback loops. Let users gauge how others judge their self-expression by creating feedback mechanisms such as comments or likes can work as great reward hooks for efforts of self-expression. Consider keeping feedback mechanisms positive and constructive to spark the motivational momentum of the user.
  • Create a stage. Look for ways to surface and celebrate unique customizations or personal artefacts by providing users with a stage to express themselves to the broader public.

Rationale

As humans we are social beings who will always use personal expression to make sense of the world and provide meaning.

Allowing users to customize a product makes it unique and personal to the individual, effectively increasing its perceived and symbolic value to both the creator and to others.

Sources

In Western cultures, self-expression of the individual is regarded as one of the most highly-regarded values in society as opposed to the more collectivistic values of other cultures. Regardless, self expression is how we learn about the mind, why it is baked into the roots of social psychology and self-determination theory.

1 Six Patterns for Persuasion in Online Social Networks

2 Grey, A., Individuality, conformity and collective identity. International Forum of
Psychoanalysis, 9–12 (1993)

3 Ryan, R. M.; Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist. 55 (1): 68–78.

4 Grey, A. (1993). Individuality, conformity and collective identity. International Forum of Psychoanalysis, New York, USA, 9–12


User Interface Design Patterns