The behavioral science of social media influence.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA

Brett DiNovi & Associates

Social media has become a strong influence in our lives. Most people now interact with social media more often than any other type of media. This has created unique contingencies that allow anyone who is willing to impact the world.

In a recent video by Brett DiNovi & Associates, Brett DiNovi, BCBA, met with Roberto Blake, a popular YouTube personality to discuss the behavioral science of social media influence.

Roberto Blake is famous for his authenticity and practicality as a YouTube influencer. As he describes in conversation with Brett DiNovi, he seeks to first always bring value to his viewers. He often creates value by speaking about his experiences in establishing himself as a freelancer and as a YouTube personality. A number of his videos are short ‘how to’-based segments, for example: establishing one’s self as freelancer, achieving your goals, generating ‘passive’ income, and building a competitive graphic design portfolio.

In his video with Brett, he continues this tradition by discussing how he motivates himself to create content on a daily basis. Brett and Roberto discuss how Roberto has self-imposed a fixed interval schedule of content production – thus pushing himself and avoiding the pitfall of procrastination. Brett then provides an analysis of other contingencies likely at play based on Roberto’s descriptions of his own behavior. Brett aptly notes that Roberto seeks to reinforce his user’s attention in his videos, he attempts to do this by providing something of value in each of his videos. Roberto says that he attends to the ‘pain points’ of his audience and attempts to provide value that addresses that pain. This indicates that Roberto is attending to the Establishing Operations (EOs) that motivate his viewers.

For those interested in the functions of verbal behavior, Roberto’s vocal behavior speaks of likely verbal symbolic behaviors and their functions. During the video, Roberto speaks about how prospective speakers and influencers are better off speaking authentically and mindfully. He describes how many speakers and influencers ‘overthink,’ and in doing so, tune out of important aspects of the interaction. He says this sabotages the speaker/influencer’s ability to connect with their audience. Based on Roberto’s description of his verbal/symbolic behavior, Roberto appears to be engaging in a high level of present-moment focus when speaking, rather than engaging in pre-planning (rule-governed behavior) that might reduce his ability to attend to direct contingencies in the moment.

Towards the end of the video, Roberto speaks about the importance of not ‘defining one’s self by their past.’ In an analysis of his verbal behavior, he appears to be engaging in “defusion,” or a stepping back from his verbally constructed sense of self. This further indicates an awareness of the need to attend fully to ever-evolving direct contingencies.

To hear more, be sure to check out the full video, and to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube channel and let him know what you would like to see in future videos.  Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]


Brett DinoviBrett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at [email protected]

*Paid content by Brett DiNovi & Associates.

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