Why a Psychologist-in-Residence is the new Growth Hacker 🚀

“Facebook is as much psychology and sociology as it is technology.”’ -Mark Zuckerberg

Social psychology sits at the intersection between psychology and sociology.

When you’re able to master social psychology, you know how people think, how people act. You know how to play into that.

Your company will grow.

Here’s some examples.


Most people view Zuckerberg as a programmer. I view him as a psychologist- the subject he majored in.

Zuckerberg ensured his product would fulfill important human needs. He allowed us to present the best version of ourselves. When I view my FB profile, I see a representation of my identity. I control how people perceive me. My pictures and achievements are praised by friends and loved ones. I feel proud.

Facebook feeds our ego as well as our need for social reinforcement.

It’s proven that viewing our own profile gives us a significant self-esteem boost. There’s evidence that ego fulfillment underlies our Facebook use.

Facebook makes us feel good.

We continue to seek out that same feeling. We crave that dopamine rush. We continue to log on, we continue to post (equals: user engagement).

“Despite the name ‘social networks,’ much user activity on networking sites is self-focused” — Brittany Gentile


Snapchat allows us to share content without overthinking it. Ephemerality. A psychologically rooted core strategy.

The threshold to share content is low and the personal investment is low. I can post an ugly selfie without fearing others will now perceive me as ugly. It disappears. I don’t have to fear I won’t get likes and any reinforcement (such as replies) are private.

Content in Snapchat is different from other Social Media platforms. Video’s might be shakier, selfies might be uglier. But it doesn’t impede in the quality. It’s rather the reason of the unique beauty of Snapchat stories; raw and a truer portrayal of our lives. It feels good to post and it’s fun to post. We don’t have to fear. We don’t have to think. We just share. More content, faster. A winner for user-engagement.


You know Apple’s core strategy is design. You don’t know that Apple plays psychological mind tricks through it.

Let’s take a look at a famous study regarding fluency theory. Participants had to read recipe A or recipe B and evaluate how easy/hard it would be to prepare the dish. Both recipes were identical, however recipe A was written in an easy-to-read font (fluency condition) and recipe B in a hard-to-read font (non-fluency condition). Participants that read the recipe in the hard-to-read font, predicted the dish would be harder to prepare than participants that read the recipe in the easy-to-read font.

Fluency tricks your brain. When information is fluent to process, your mind perceives it as easy to do. Think about a Windows laptop and a MacBook next to each other. Laptops that run Windows are typically bulky, big, dark. It looks intimidating, complex. Macbooks look compact, have few options, soft colors. It’s simple. It’s fluent. Apple’s OS might have the same amount of features as Windows, but because of Apple’s fluency, our brain perceives it as easier to navigate. Just by the way it’s designed.

Apple isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, it’s designed for the mind.

“The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” -Steve Jobs

Now that we know the importance of psychology in tech, let’s take a look at your typical roles in tech.

Typical roles within tech companies

Traditionally tech companies have positions for product managers, engineers, designers. Or Entrepreneur in Residence, Designer In Residence, and VC’s. But what about psychology?

Tech companies don’t think about psychology in the majority of decisions. According to LinkedIn, the position Psychologist in Residence (PIR) does not exist yet. Even in the most progressive places of progressiveness (yes you, San Francisco), there are exactly zero job positions for a PIR.

I’m coining this term.

The impact of a Psychologist in Residence (PIR)

The way that a PIR works is similar to a growth hacker. A PIR can translate knowledge of human behaviour into actionable strategies that are backed up by science. A PIR is data-driven and thus easy to hire; If your PIR doesn’t perform, you don’t see tangible results, get rid of them. With a good PIR, you will see results.

Psychologists are behavioural experts. They can shape and grow your company. It makes sense to bring in one.

Be ahead of the game.

Jennifer van Dam
Psychologist in Residence
Islands Media Inc

Enjoyed that read? Click the ❤ below to recommend it to other interested readers!