Sam Gosling, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. His work has been widely covered in the media, including The New York Times, Psychology Today, NPR, and "Good Morning America," and his research is featured in Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink." Gosling is the recipient of the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution. His first book, Snoop, was a New Scientist Editor's Pick for top books of 2008. His most recent research has focused on how animal psychology can inform theories of human personality and social psychology.
Sam Gosling: Yeah, I think we’re- I mean, we’re continuing to push in the meaning of environment, so we’ve gone from physical environments to virtual environments, and I’m very, very interested in these new emerging environments, such as social networking sites which are places- which are very interesting places for us- projecting our identity, but also reflecting our behavior- so the sorts of behaviors that go on there, I think, are very interesting- not not frivolous and trivial as they often are claimed to be.
And also virtual spaces, too- what’s going there- because there, we don’t have constraints. Most of us have constraints in what we- in the sorts of places we can create, where virtual space is less so, and so I think looking at the connections between people’s real environments and their virtual environments is holds many opportunities to understand what’s going on inside our heads.
People often say, “well, what do people use Facebook for?” Or “what do people use Second Life for?” And the answer is, they use it for a whole bunch of different things. There’s many different purposes. And I think it’s reasonable to predict that people in these spaces will both try to create extensions of themselves, but also experiment with other possible selves, too.
Recorded on: June 13, 2008.