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Social Comparisons and Contributions to Online Communities: A Field Experiment on MovieLens

Author

Listed:
  • Yan Chen
  • F. Maxwell Harper
  • Joseph Konstan
  • Sherry Xin Li

Abstract

We design a field experiment to explore the use of social comparison to increase contributions to an online community. We find that, after receiving behavioral information about the median user's total number of movie ratings, users below the median demonstrate a 530 percent increase in the number of monthly movie ratings, while those above the median decrease their ratings by 62 percent. When given outcome information about the average user's net benefit score, above-average users mainly engage in activities that help others. Our findings suggest that effective personalized social information can increase the level of public goods provision. (JEL C93, H41, L82)

Suggested Citation

  • Yan Chen & F. Maxwell Harper & Joseph Konstan & Sherry Xin Li, 2010. "Social Comparisons and Contributions to Online Communities: A Field Experiment on MovieLens," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1358-1398, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:4:p:1358-98
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.4.1358
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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    1. Social Comparisons and Contributions to Online Communities: A Field Experiment on MovieLens (AER 2010) in ReplicationWiki

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