Dr Amy McKee, the head of our psychological profiling division, considers the advent of the cybersoul, and whether understanding the cybersoul can be of benefit to real world interactions.

Does digital analysis open a window into our cybersoul? Understanding the cybersould has societal and commercial benefits.Through the examination of digital media is it possible to understand an individual’s ‘cybersoul’? Does our cybersoul influence our real world interactions and behaviours? Is understanding the cybersoul even important?

Is there even such a thing as a cybersoul?

At this point, let’s define just what we mean, here, by ‘soul.’ For the purpose of this conversation, a soul is the essence of a person, the core of us that reveals itself in our attitudes and behaviours and that makes us who we are. For millennia we have been judged on our interactions with others (family, friends, acquaintances and strangers) and our responses to our physical environment and what is happening around us and to us.  Now however many of us are also operating in a digital environment, which leads to the suggestion that we have an online, cyber-identity, or soul, which can be considered too.

The digital marketer’s view

Digital marketing strategists certainly think that individuals develop their own cyber identity, or cybersoul, and understanding the cybersoul of individuals can create opportunity for real world spending and interaction. We are all now well aware that our searching for a product on one website can lead to adverts appearing in our social media newsfeeds suggesting similar products. Certainly some days I almost feel overwhelmed by the range of shoes and boots offered to me….almost!

So where we used to try and understand people through their real world interactions, should we now begin to spend more time understanding their digital interactions? There’s a strong argument for doing so as the emerging evidence base is that there are indeed parallels between the cyberself and the real world self. Indeed, psychologists are conducting much research in this field as we recognise that the online world is where people are spending increasing amount of time.

The psychologist’s view

Through digital interactions we can learn how someone nurtures and maintains relationships and how they evoke and promote interaction with others. We can also witness how quickly someone responds to negative and positive feedback. We can see their sense of humour, their bonds with family and broader social bonds.

On a richer level of understanding, the cybersoul offers unique insights into motivations, ethics, consistency of self-concept, introversion and extraversion, narcissism, arrogance, altruism and so many other varied and fascinating aspects of personality. These behaviours have for years been analysed by psychologists through structured tools and interviews. Now we have a vast window into the cybersoul we have even more information available to us to understand and enhance real world interactions.