Media Effects Research Lab - Research Archive

Effects of facebok use on cyberactivism

Student Researcher(s)

Jose Aviles (Ph.D Candidate); Donghee Lee (Masters Candidate)

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

INTRODUCTION

This study examines the effect of Facebook on prompting cyberactivism when individuals receive negative feedback from their Facebook friends. Facebook is a popular form of facilitating interaction that acts as a forum for exchanging of resources and political thoughts. Past research demonstrated the primary motivation for individual's Facebook use is to interact with their network of friends. Various organizations also use Facbeook to promote and endorse social and political issues. Based on the postulation that social acceptance and the need to belong affect individual's behavior, the study observes the influence of negative feedback on individual's perception and behavioral intention to continue to support an issue.

RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESES:

For Facebook users, controlling for gender, what is the relationship between the types of negative feedback and perceived importance of an issue / behavioral intention of the issue?
H1. Individuals who score higher on the social norms scale are likely to have a lower level of behavioral intention to endorse the social issue.
H2. Individuals who score higher on the social capital scale are likely to have a lower level of behavioral intention to endorse social issue.
H3. Individuals who score higher on the social norms scale are less likely to perceive the social issue as important.
H4. Individuals who score higher on the social capital scale are less likely to perceive the social issue as important.

METHOD

Participants (N= 218) were recruited from the Amazon Mechanical Turk. An experiment was conducted online using Qualtrics. The study randomly assigned one of six hypothetical scenarios to participants, and they were instructed to answer questions as if the scenario they read had happened to them. Participants data were divided into two data sets, representing study one and study two. Study one examines the participants who were given negative feedback via comments (N = 98). Study two examines the participants who were given negative feedback via friend loss (N = 120).

RESULTS

No support was found for our hypotheses. However, results did indicate that gender plays a significant role in prediction of issue importance perception in both contexts of varied negative feedback. Further, a significant three-way interaction effect of gender, condition, and bridging social capital was found on behavioral intentions. F(2, 56) = 4.3854, p = .0170. Gender and bridging social capital were revealed as moderators of behavioral intentions to support an issue when the negative feedback was transmitted via comments. Interestingly, social norms predicted behavioral intentions to support an issue after negative feedback delivered through direct comments, but not after friend loss.

CONCLUSIONS

Although the hypotheses of this study are left with no support, the study does reveal several interesting findings. First, our findings of gender differences among Facebook users are fairly consistent with past research, suggesting that female users who receive negative feedback about their posts are likely to continue to perceive their issue as important. In addition, in the case of negative feedback through friend loss, females will continue this trend with behavioral intention as well. However, this was not the case for behavioral intentions when negative feedback was delivered through comments. In addition, the three-way interaction found indicates stark differences for men and women. For females that received our least negative comment, as bridging social capital increases, the behavioral intention to support a cause decreases. However, for males receiving our least negative comment, as bridging social capital increases, behavioral intention to support a cause increases. Suggestions for future research include examining these differences to understand the different approaches men and women utilize when receiving feedback from peers online.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

More Articles From: