The Psychology Behind The “Want” Button

The “Want” button on Facebook has now been introduced. The idea seems rather simple and provides another metric for businesses to take advantage. Previously we’ve questioned how useful this metric will be when compared to the already existent “Like” button. After a bit more research we’ve been able to discover a bit more of the psychology behind the button and why Facebook believes it provides brands with what they need.

It is believed the main benefit of the “Want” button is that it provides a clear “sell-to-me” invitation for businesses, not just a general interest in what ever may have been shown by clicking the “Like” button. This still doesn’t seem to be of great enough benefit to companies who would be much more greatly benefited by a “dislike” button, so they could compare relative negative and positive feedback on particular posts.


What else does the “Want” button have to offer us? posted a few dot points providing a bit more insight into the “Want” button:

  • Wanting implies you are unfulfilled, incompetent or impotent. Publicly, clicking the want button demonstrates to others that your current state is not where or what you want to be, and that you’re powerless to do anything about it.  Good luck with that in social media which is all about signalling
  • We know what we Like, we only think we know what we Want. When users click the Like button, it means they have experienced pleasure from contact with stimuli.  Wanting something however is about a desire for a future reward (or a stimulus associated with a reward) from a future possible experience. Easier to click the Like button.
  • Wanting is scary; wanting something can appear irrational to ourselves and others – so we tend to keep our wants private.  Indeed the Want circuit of our brain appears to be very different to the Like circuit. Wanting is powered by the circuitry active in addiction – using dopamine (the craving neuromediator) in a primitive and largely automatic mesolimbic reward system.  We love our likes but are wary of our wants. So we’re less likely to share them.

It still seems there aren’t that many benefits to be gained from this new “Want” button, so what are Facebook thinking?

copyright FRANk Media 2018