Group size and personalization’s effect on Facebook message response rates

Jane-Marie Fatkin, Terry Lansdown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
159 Downloads (Pure)


The bystander effect is one of the most well researched and replicated phenomena in social psychology. It repeatedly shows that the presence of other people inhibits the impulse to help due to the concept of diffusion of responsibility. Recently, researchers have studied this phenomenon online in the context of emails, internet chat rooms, and discussion forums. The results from these studies provide evidence that the presence of ‘virtual’ others decreases the likelihood of helping behavior and strongly suggests that diffusion of responsibility also occurs in an internet setting. Personalization is another factor that strongly influences helping behavior. Referring to a person by name when soliciting a help request increases the likelihood of receiving assistance. Yet, with the most popular activity on the internet now being social media, it would be beneficial to know if diffusion of responsibility and personalization also occur in this section of the online world. To investigate the validity of diffusion of responsibility as well as personalization in a social media context, 176 participants sent out one private Facebook message soliciting help in the form of an online survey to 1, 3, 6, or 9 of their Facebook friends. They greeted their friend(s) by name or just said ‘Hi or ‘Hi all.’ Responses to the survey provided strong support for personalizing the greeting, but did not support the theory of diffusion of responsibility. The practical and theoretical applications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-80
JournalInformation Technology and People
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2017


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