Psychology is the study of human behaviour, put simply, why we do what we do. This makes us all amateur psychologists to some degree because we spend a great deal of time attempting to make sense of our, and other people’s, thoughts and actions.

This makes psychology an incredibly broad field of study. Think of the number of influences on behaviour. Family? Friends? The unique wiring of an individual brain? The religion or culture you grow up in? Your income? Your genetics? Individual circumstances? Traumatic events? Happy events? The list goes on (and on) and this maintains psychology as an incredibly diverse and fast moving subject area.

Excited young man holding and using live chat on an open laptop

With this in mind, when looking at Live Chat and the psychology of website visitors using it, let’s take just two examples of the field to see how the two relate.

First of all, we can look through the lens of one of the largest areas of psychology: psychotherapy.

What on earth can psychotherapy teach us about Live Chat users you might ask? Actually quite a lot. The most popular form of psychotherapy in the world today is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT. The essence of CBT is often connected to the Greek stoic philosopher, Epictetus who said “Men are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them”. In other words, much of our stress derives more from negative thoughts surrounding a particular situation than the situation itself. In an over-simplified description of what is a complex field, CBT teaches us to realign these thoughts in order to ease this stress.

Relating this to Live Chat, what makes someone opt for it over a customer service phone line? Well, what do many people think when they see a helpdesk number? They think of being endlessly stuck on hold, being transferred, not finding the correct person and other such horrors. Is it really that horrific an experience to go through? Of course not, but this isn’t what their thoughts are telling them & it goes some way in describing the motivation of using the quicker, more convenient Live Chat function.

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Let’s now look at the field of “positive psychology”. Briefly, this examines the positive aspects of behaviour and what we can learn from them. The late Professor Chris Peterson of the University of Michigan conducted a wonderful experiment where he asked a large number of people, from different countries, cultures, ages and ethnicities, one simple question: What constitutes a good day? He took all of their answers, searched for consistent patterns and came up with a formula for happiness (try it, it really works!). The formula became known as “the three Cs of positive psychology”. Choice (we spend far too much time in our lives doing things we wouldn’t necessarily choose to be doing, so choosing an activity is far more enjoyable), Connection (doing something with people you like to be around) and Competence (people enjoy doing something they’re good at). Once again, this can relate to the behaviour of Live Chat users. You’d rather receive an instant answer than be put on hold, so you choose Live Chat. You quite like the notion of an instant “can I help” appearing on a site, giving you a sense of connection. Finally, you think this is far easier to find an answer than you imagined, encouraging you to use Live Chat whenever possible because you feel competent in doing so.

This is a tiny snapshot of what psychology is, and how it relates to Live Chat usage, but the amateur psychologist in all of us, still finds it fascinating and compelling.