Building member attachment in online communities

Applying theories of group identity and interpersonal bonds1

Yuqing Ren, Max Harper, Sara Drenner, Loren G Terveen, Sara Kiesler, John Riedl, Robert E. Kraut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

252 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Online communities are increasingly important to organizations and the general public, but there is little theoretically based research on what makes some online communities more successful than others. In this article, we apply theory from the field of social psychology to understand how online communities develop member attachment, an important dimension of community success. We implemented and empirically tested two sets of community features for building member attachment by strengthening either group identity or interpersonal bonds. To increase identity-based attachment, we gave members information about group activities and intergroup competition, and tools for group-level communication. To increase bond-based attachment, we gave members information about the activities of individual members and interpersonal similarity, and tools for interpersonal communication. Results from a six-month field experiment show that participants' visit frequency and self-reported attachment increased in both conditions. Community features intended to foster identity-based attachment had stronger effects than features intended to foster bond-based attachment. Participants in the identity condition with access to group profiles and repeated exposure to their group's activities visited their community twice as frequently as participants in other conditions. The new features also had stronger effects on newcomers than on old-timers. This research illustrates how theory from the social science literature can be applied to gain a more systematic understanding of online communities and how theory-inspired features can improve their success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-864
Number of pages24
JournalMIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems
Volume36
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012

Fingerprint

Social sciences
Communication
Experiments
Group identity
Online communities

Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Group identity
  • Interpersonal bonds
  • Online community
  • Participation

Cite this

Building member attachment in online communities : Applying theories of group identity and interpersonal bonds1. / Ren, Yuqing; Harper, Max; Drenner, Sara; Terveen, Loren G; Kiesler, Sara; Riedl, John; Kraut, Robert E.

In: MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems, Vol. 36, No. 3, 01.09.2012, p. 841-864.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ren, Yuqing ; Harper, Max ; Drenner, Sara ; Terveen, Loren G ; Kiesler, Sara ; Riedl, John ; Kraut, Robert E. / Building member attachment in online communities : Applying theories of group identity and interpersonal bonds1. In: MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems. 2012 ; Vol. 36, No. 3. pp. 841-864.
@article{f50935d18ba64e039c9847f31f01ae46,
title = "Building member attachment in online communities: Applying theories of group identity and interpersonal bonds1",
abstract = "Online communities are increasingly important to organizations and the general public, but there is little theoretically based research on what makes some online communities more successful than others. In this article, we apply theory from the field of social psychology to understand how online communities develop member attachment, an important dimension of community success. We implemented and empirically tested two sets of community features for building member attachment by strengthening either group identity or interpersonal bonds. To increase identity-based attachment, we gave members information about group activities and intergroup competition, and tools for group-level communication. To increase bond-based attachment, we gave members information about the activities of individual members and interpersonal similarity, and tools for interpersonal communication. Results from a six-month field experiment show that participants' visit frequency and self-reported attachment increased in both conditions. Community features intended to foster identity-based attachment had stronger effects than features intended to foster bond-based attachment. Participants in the identity condition with access to group profiles and repeated exposure to their group's activities visited their community twice as frequently as participants in other conditions. The new features also had stronger effects on newcomers than on old-timers. This research illustrates how theory from the social science literature can be applied to gain a more systematic understanding of online communities and how theory-inspired features can improve their success.",
keywords = "Attachment, Group identity, Interpersonal bonds, Online community, Participation",
author = "Yuqing Ren and Max Harper and Sara Drenner and Terveen, {Loren G} and Sara Kiesler and John Riedl and Kraut, {Robert E.}",
year = "2012",
month = "9",
day = "1",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "36",
pages = "841--864",
journal = "MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems",
issn = "0276-7783",
publisher = "Management Information Systems Research Center",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Building member attachment in online communities

T2 - Applying theories of group identity and interpersonal bonds1

AU - Ren, Yuqing

AU - Harper, Max

AU - Drenner, Sara

AU - Terveen, Loren G

AU - Kiesler, Sara

AU - Riedl, John

AU - Kraut, Robert E.

PY - 2012/9/1

Y1 - 2012/9/1

N2 - Online communities are increasingly important to organizations and the general public, but there is little theoretically based research on what makes some online communities more successful than others. In this article, we apply theory from the field of social psychology to understand how online communities develop member attachment, an important dimension of community success. We implemented and empirically tested two sets of community features for building member attachment by strengthening either group identity or interpersonal bonds. To increase identity-based attachment, we gave members information about group activities and intergroup competition, and tools for group-level communication. To increase bond-based attachment, we gave members information about the activities of individual members and interpersonal similarity, and tools for interpersonal communication. Results from a six-month field experiment show that participants' visit frequency and self-reported attachment increased in both conditions. Community features intended to foster identity-based attachment had stronger effects than features intended to foster bond-based attachment. Participants in the identity condition with access to group profiles and repeated exposure to their group's activities visited their community twice as frequently as participants in other conditions. The new features also had stronger effects on newcomers than on old-timers. This research illustrates how theory from the social science literature can be applied to gain a more systematic understanding of online communities and how theory-inspired features can improve their success.

AB - Online communities are increasingly important to organizations and the general public, but there is little theoretically based research on what makes some online communities more successful than others. In this article, we apply theory from the field of social psychology to understand how online communities develop member attachment, an important dimension of community success. We implemented and empirically tested two sets of community features for building member attachment by strengthening either group identity or interpersonal bonds. To increase identity-based attachment, we gave members information about group activities and intergroup competition, and tools for group-level communication. To increase bond-based attachment, we gave members information about the activities of individual members and interpersonal similarity, and tools for interpersonal communication. Results from a six-month field experiment show that participants' visit frequency and self-reported attachment increased in both conditions. Community features intended to foster identity-based attachment had stronger effects than features intended to foster bond-based attachment. Participants in the identity condition with access to group profiles and repeated exposure to their group's activities visited their community twice as frequently as participants in other conditions. The new features also had stronger effects on newcomers than on old-timers. This research illustrates how theory from the social science literature can be applied to gain a more systematic understanding of online communities and how theory-inspired features can improve their success.

KW - Attachment

KW - Group identity

KW - Interpersonal bonds

KW - Online community

KW - Participation

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84864934014&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84864934014&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

VL - 36

SP - 841

EP - 864

JO - MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems

JF - MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems

SN - 0276-7783

IS - 3

ER -