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

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

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.100.4.1358
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1358-98

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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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  10. John Duffy & Tatiana Kornienko, 2006. "Does Competition Affect Giving?," Working Papers 275, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2009.
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