A Platform Analysis of the Habitual Flow Experience on Instagram: A Platform Analysis Looking into how Instagram Mobilises Design Choices to Afford States of Flow and Habituation and the Platform's Considerations Relating to Design Choices

Julie Ege Street-Hansen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis investigates how Instagram mobilises design choices to afford states of flow on the platform as well as designing for habituation and what considerations go into the platform’s design choices. The walkthrough-method is used to explore and analyse technical mechanisms and embedded cultural references on Instagram’s interface to understand how it guides and shapes users’ experiences on the platform. Social media plays a big and noticeable role in electoral politics, protest and political journalism as well as taking up more time at work and during leisure time. In its early phases, social media platforms were viewed positively since they afforded their users with sociality, connectivity, a sense of freedom and control as well as a fantasy world to escape to with room for various emotions. In later years, social media platforms are often associated with out-group prejudice, less prosocial behaviour, less satisfying relationships and lower levels of moral consideration, integrity and overall wellbeing of individuals. This is despite a growing dependence on the various platforms. The platform analysis of Instagram, one of the leading players within the social media and app marketplace as well as in changing global culture, reveals that Instagram affects the behaviour of their users and more generally, all social media platforms change users’ behaviours in some ways. Research suggests users are often on more than one platform and these platforms standardise many of the same features and similar interfaces. Instagram has done it by developing a platform constituting and supporting a sense of flow for users through affordances of being entertained, sociality and loss of time among many other things. Moreover, they hook their users by creating a platform where users can feel a sense of control and an experience of being intrinsically rewarded, which also leads to users being habituated to a continued usage of Instagram and similar platforms even though users have ambiguous feelings toward the use of social media platforms. Lastly, Instagram is a subsidiary of Facebook Inc. and their primary revenue source is advertisements, since approximately 98% of their total revenue stems from advertising. The success of the companies hinges on their ability to add, retain and engage active users and continue to be relevant for users across the globe.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages73
SupervisorsNanna Bonde Thylstrup