General Online Research 2011

March 14-16, 2011, Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf


Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or room to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview

C7: Money or Love - Trust and Attractiveness in Social Media

Time: Wednesday, 16/Mar/2011: 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Session Chair: Martin Welker


Information acquisition and trustworthiness on auction sites: Combining conjoint analysis and process tracing.

Marcin Bober, Chris Snijders, Martijn Willemsen, Uwe Matzat

Eindhoven University of Technology

Relevance & Research Question: We combine conjoint-analysis and process tracing to analyze how buyers on auction sites process information about the trustworthiness of sellers. Earlier research indicates that semantic feedback from previous customers strongly affects the purchasing decision of new buyers and that it is possible for sellers to counteract the effect of other buyers' negative feedback by choosing appropriate reply strategies (Bober, Snijders, & Matzat, 2010). This study makes a further step in explaining how people deal with trustworthiness online, with an emphasis on the interplay between qualitative and quantitative feedback.

Methods & Data: We combined conjoint-analysis and process tracing in an experimental setup. Using a mockup website which simulates an online auction site such as eBay we asked 300 participants to rank the attractiveness of different online offers. A typical offer consists of a product’s photo and price, reputation score of the seller, type of previous trust violation (a negative comment), and the type of seller's reaction (reply on a comment). This approach, characteristic for conjoint analysis, was combined with a process tracing method based on mouse tracking (elements were blurred when the mouse was not over them). This allows us to precisely track the information acquisition process, and analyze which components of the feedback are considered when ranking the offers.

Results: The data show the following: (1) the process tracing data show that the basic assumption of conjoint analysis – that all elements of an offer are given a certain weight – is not met, which leads to estimates of the effectiveness of the different characteristics of an offer, (2) the size of the effect of semantic feedback on the attractiveness of an offer is at least in the same order of magnitude as the effect of reputation scores.

Added Value: To our knowledge this is the first study that harnesses the process tracing methodology to explain perceptions of trustworthiness on the auction sites. Using this method we can build a better, more realistic model of trust. In addition, it augments standard conjoint methods by (appropriately) disregarding the characteristics of offers that respondents have not even considered.

All the Single Ladies – Relationship Status and its Relation to Self-Presentation on Social Networking Sites

Stephan Winter1, Nina Haferkamp2, Yvonne Stock1, Nicole C. Krämer1

1University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany; 2University of Muenster, Germany

Relevance and Research Question:

Online profiles on social networking sites offer various opportunities for communicating personal information and therefore provide an ideal setting for an elaborated impression management – which can be particularly useful to attract potential partners. Considering the social psychological concept of the “need to belong” (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), it can be assumed that users who are searching for a relationship make use of certain self-presentation strategies, for example by creating a more detailed profile and placing high priority on the display of a large network of social bonds. The present study investigated whether a person’s relationship status presented on his/her online profile is related to impression management on the German Web 2.0 site StudiVZ.

Methods & Data:

We randomly selected 100 online profiles of StudiVZ users (25 profiles for each relationship status: “single”, “in a relationship”, “engaged/married”, and “not specified”). In a detailed content analysis, we assessed the numbers of friends, photographs that are linked to the profile owner, wall postings and groups as well as the length of the profile texts. Furthermore, we used qualitative categories focusing on the type of group a person can join.


The analysis showed that singles disclosed more photographs of themselves on their profiles than people in relationships. They also displayed more groups on their profile and were more likely to join user groups in the categories “parties”, “sexual statements”, “personal details” and “fun and nonsense”. This suggests that people who are likely to search for a relationship are willing to disclose more private information and tend to present more sexual hints. Gender and age did not influence the detail level of the profile and the display of social bonds.

Added value:

The results indicate that – although social networking sites are not especially dedicated to dating behavior – self-presentation is nevertheless affected by the potential to form romantic relationships. Therefore, users’ relationship status should be considered as a further factor which affects online impression management on social networking sites.

Winter-All the Single Ladies – Relationship Status and its Relation-142.pdf

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