Using social psychology to motivate contributions to online communities

Kimberly Ling, Gerard Beenen, Pamela Ludford, Xiaoqing Wang, Klarissa Chang, Xin Li, Dan Cosley, Dan Frankowski, Loren G Terveen, Al Mamunur Rashid, Paul Resnick, Robert Kraut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

350 Scopus citations


Under-contribution is a problem for many online communities. Social psychology theories of social loafing and goal-setting can lead to mid-level design goals to address this problem. We tested design principles derived from these theories in four field experiments involving members of an online movie recommender community. In each of the experiments participated were given different explanations for the value of their contributions. As predicted by theory, individuals contributed when they were reminded of their uniqueness and when they were given specific and challenging goals. However, other predictions were disconfirmed. For example, in one experiment, participants given group goals contributed more than those given individual goals. The article ends with suggestions and challenges for mining design implications from social science theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005


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