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Empowering emotions

Posted on: Friday 10th of September 2010

I have just written an article for ( about the emotional drivers of consumer empowerment.

Here’s the gist: There’s a growing bank of psychological research showing that feeling empowered and in control makes people feel good about themselves (self-esteem, hope, being energised to achieve stuff) and that feeling disempowered and not in control is associated with depression and ill-health. Common sense really, but the boffins are uncovering the details, mechanisms and so on.

Meanwhile, the democratisation of information technologies is empowering individuals in all sorts of ways.

In the article I talk about five ‘waves’ of consumer empowerment.

1) Choice between products and services (which we’ve had for decades but which has grown extensively in scope over the last decades)

2) Choice between different sources of information (e.g. search, comparison, peer reviews etc)

3) Voice as manifested by the first decade of the 21st century e.g. social networking.

4) The emergence of Personal Information Management Services (PIMS) including Personal Data Stores, that really give individuals control over their own information and who they share it with, for what purposes (selective disclosure). Think of this as organised voice, if you like.

5) The other aspects of PIMS where individuals use control over information to organise and manage the practicalities of their daily lives better (planning, coordination, organising things, admin etc)

The intriguing thing is that the psychological research is demonstrating that there are very strong emotional, as well as practical, reasons why individuals want to embrace these emerging tools and services.

Together, these emotional and practical drivers point to the creation of a truly potent force for change.