American Economic Review: Vol. 100 No. 4 (September 2010)

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

Article Citation

Chen, Yan, F. Maxwell Harper, Joseph Konstan, and Sherry Xin Li. 2010. "Social Comparisons and Contributions to Online Communities: A Field Experiment on MovieLens." American Economic Review, 100(4): 1358-98.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.4.1358

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)

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Authors

Chen, Yan (U MI)
Harper, F. Maxwell (U MN)
Konstan, Joseph (U MN)
Li, Sherry Xin (U TX, Dallas)

JEL Classifications

C93: Field Experiments
H41: Public Goods
L82: Entertainment; Media


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