This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Computers in Human Behavior
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh
Tweet this: A uses and gratiﬁcations perspective on how active Twitter use gratiﬁes a need to connect with others
Gina Masullo Chen ⇑
Syracuse University, 215 University Place, Syracuse, NY 13244-2100, USA
a r t i c l e
i n f o
a b s t r a c t
Twitter is an Internet social-network and micro-blogging platform with both mass and interpersonal communication features for sharing 140-character messages, called tweets, with other people, called followers. Hierarchical OLS regression of survey results from 317 Twitter users found that the more months a person is active on Twitter and the more hours per week the person spends on Twitter, the more the person gratiﬁes a need for an informal sense of camaraderie, called connection, with other users. Controlling for demographic variables does not diminish this positive relationship. Additionally, frequency of tweeting and number of @replies, public messages between Twitter users, mediate the relationship between active Twitter use and gratifying a need for connection. Results are discussed in light of uses and gratiﬁcations theory. Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Article history: Available online 10 November 2010 Keywords: Twitter, Connection Uses and gratiﬁcations Social media
1. Introduction When the social-networking site Twitter started in 2006 (Farhi, 2009), its ﬁrst users answered the question on Twitter’s online interface: What are you doing right now? These responses became known as updates and later tweets, 140-character messages that people who opted to ‘‘follow’’ the user could read online or on their cell phone or mobile device. As Twitter use grew, some media bloggers argued Twitter was simply a haven for narcissistic bloviating about inane facts such as what one had for lunch (Ariens, 2009, February 28; Popkin, 2007, May 8; Sarno, 2009, March 11). Others argued Twitter was becoming a way to form connections in real time with thousands of people who shared your interests (Sarno, 2009, March 11) or a way to get to know strangers through the details of their lives (Thompson, 2008, September 5). Researchers began studying Twitter and found that people were using it to give and receive advice, gather and share information, and meet people (Johnson & Yang, 2009). People tweeted about a range of topics, including events of daily life, and linked to news stories (Java, Finin, Song, & Tseng, 2007). In time, Twitter evolved from an online application where users answered a simple question to a ‘‘new economy of info-sharing and connectivity’’ between people (Sarno, 2009, March 11). Research has found that this sharing of everyday experiences and chitchat online help people establish common ground and can bring people together through social media (Donath & boyd, 2004; Rheingold, 2000), but this idea has not been tested on Twitter.
⇑ Tel.: +1 315 882 6026.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org 0747-5632/$ - see front matter Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.10.023
This study’s main contribution to social-science research is to examine whether Twitter is just the chaotic noise that some say or has the potential to gratify the basic human need to connect with other people. This research asks: Does active use of Twitter gratify a need to feel connected to other people on Twitter? For this study, connection is deﬁned as a type of informal camaraderie explained by Granovetter’s (1973) concept of weak ties between individuals or the distant connections that Littau (2009) found online. A need is deﬁned as ‘‘an immediate outcome of internal and external occurrences’’ (Murray, 1953, p. 60) that moves from disequilibrium toward equilibrium. In other words, if people have a need to connect with other people, they will seek to gratify it. This study contends that selecting a medium, such as Twitter, and using it actively is one way people can gratify a need to connect with other people. This study offers an exploratory look at Twitter, a medium researchers have had little time to study because it is so new, compared to traditional forms of media, such as newspapers, television, and ﬁlm. Even among social networks, Twitter has received less study so far than larger and older applications, such as Facebook. Communication researchers have examined interactive media since the late 1990s, but their review has focused on how the audience uses these media (Singer, 1998), not whether people gratify a need to connect with each others users through the medium, as this current study suggests. Twitter is one of the fastest-growing social-networking sites, with unique visitors1 growing from 1 million in June 2008 to 21 million a year later (Nielsen Wire, 2009,
1 Unique visitors are people counted only once when they visit a web site, regardless of how many times they visit the site.
Joinson.79% since April 2010.com. Taken together. it makes sense to understand the history and meaning of social networks on the Internet. 2007) and ﬁnally Twitter 2 years later. 1974) and gratiﬁes one or more needs (Katz. and a rash of sites followed. emotional connection. the web-trafﬁc ranking site2. and gaining followers. In a marketing study. and social-networking sites such as Twitter (Johnson & Yang. along with Wenner’s (1985) understanding of ritualized social relationships. U&G has been successfully used in recent research on the web (Ko. where people form ‘‘ritualized social relationships’’ (Wenner. As such. They both identiﬁed a need to afﬁliate (Murray. 2). 6. . For this study.Alexa. But it lacks the strength of this community model posited by McMillan and Chavis (1986). 1. 2010. For this study. Gratiﬁcation of the need to connect with others through the process of using Twitter is a para-social gratiﬁcation. 1974. retweeting. 2004). where people gain from the experience of using media. Weibull’s (1985) model of uses and gratiﬁcation. (2010). fulﬁllment of needs met through cooperative behavior. Before the Internet was called the world wide web in the early 1990s. in some cases. Facebook (Bumgarner. Social networks Before expanding on the theoretical foundation of this study. Chen / Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 755–762 July 27).52% visited MySpace. shared alliances. How U&G and connection relate The purpose of this current study is to apply the principles of U&G to Twitter to see how people who seek out this medium and use it actively gratify a need to connect with other people on Twitter through the medium. and audience members select the medium that meets their needs. McMillan. This theory is particularly suitable for studying Twitter.04% for Facebook. 2009b). p. 2008). according to ﬁgures from Alexa. & Eastin. & Gurevitch. In a social media environment such as Twitter. 2008. SixDegrees.com. such as the WELL. That model offers four dimensions: Membership in a group. 1999). 2007. With so many people using Twitter. understanding whether people can gratify a need to connect with other people through Twitter is a meaningful addition to the body of knowledge about how people interact online. LaRose & Eastin. Kaye. Connection Both Murray (1953) and Maslow (1987) deﬁned needs as forces that push people in a certain direction to gratify those needs. 2007. I examine how use of Twitter relates to satisfaction of needs of individuals. 2009). which offers the potential for both mass and interpersonal communication (Johnson & Yang. It has also been used to study blogging (Chung & Kim. 1986. which in turn leads them to use that medium again because using it was gratifying. creating a web of personal connections (boyd & Ellison. LaRose. While social networks tend to ﬂourish and then ﬂounder. p. formed bonds. 2000). 2000). Mastro. content gratiﬁcations where people derive value from the information in the media message. Social networks are deﬁned as online environments where people create proﬁles about themselves and make links to other people on the site. 2010. Theory 2. offering a ‘‘setting where we can be ourselves and see ourselves mirrored in the eyes and responses of others’’ (McMillan.1. I argue Twitter allows people to gratify their intrinsic need to form relationships with other people through the habitual process of using Twitter by sending tweets and direct messages. & Wandersman. launched in 1997. Hollenbaugh. Zarella (2009) found that 90% of the 5.756 G. p. & Roberts. people formed personal connections with each other through computer-conferencing systems. 1. U&G holds that multiple media compete for users’ attention. Wang. and Cutler and Danowski’s (1980) idea that media gratify process needs form a framework to relate U&G to this study’s premise that habitual Twitter use can gratify people’s need to connect with other people on Twitter. because U&G asks what people do with media.4 million Twitter users he studied had tweeted at least 11 times and had at least 11 followers. 2. relying on Weibull’s (1985) structural model of media use as utilized by Wu et al. but that people select a particular medium because it is meaningful (Johnstone. such as a desire for information. As computer interactivity became more sophisticated. reciprocal inﬂuence among members. such as television newscasters or newspaper columnists. short for Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link (Rheingold. 2000. Hogge. not what media do to people (Swanson. because he was writing about traditional media. and. 1996. The need for connection with other people examined in this study relates to the broader idea of face-to-face sense of community (SOC). Twitter’s membership has grown from 6 million in 2008 to triple that a year later (‘‘US Twitter Usage. following people. Blumler. Ko. and 33. and process gratiﬁcations. and a drop of 16. 2010). Donath & boyd. and status (Tan. The ﬁrst recognizable social network. 2009a). 1985. Those ﬁgures show that for June 28. Twitter is seeing more growth than either MySpace or Facebook. It is important to note that Wenner deﬁned para-social gratiﬁcations as relationships with media actors.M. 2001). 2005). and then Facebook in 2004 (boyd & Ellison. 1987) that relate directly to this study’s concept of the need to connect with other people on Twitter. 1985). Media use that becomes habitual reinforces this relationship because people return to a medium they ﬁnd gratiﬁes their needs (Weibull. and MySpace (Raacke & Bonds-Raacke. at least at the moment. Twitter’s percentage of global Internet visitors for that day was an increase of 25. 1979). 2004. MySpace. It follows that people who are most active on Twitter would do so because they get something out of that experience.7% for MySpace.56% visited Facebook. The 2 Rankings tracked at www. and emotional support stemming from struggles and success of community living (Chiquer & Pretty. 2005. including Ryze. Twitter ﬁts this deﬁnition of an online social-networking site. more robust and easier to use social networks developed.’’ 2009).2.45% of global Internet users visited Twitter. 2008). That model was based on ofﬂine relationships between people in neighborhoods and included the idea of acceptance. 1953) or feel a sense of belonging (Maslow. People today must be even choosier than in the past to select a medium that meets their needs because they have more media choices (Ruggiero. 11). which offers a feeling of emotion safety. WELL members conversed via computer.com on June 29. 175) through media use. Rubin. 1985). 1. 2009a). It assumes that media have little or no impact on those who do not use it. compared with an increase of 10. Cutler and Danowski (1980) conceptualized two main categories of media gratiﬁcations. This theory was used since the 1940s and brieﬂy fell out of favor but has experienced a resurgence in the study of the Internet and new media (Rubin. 2. & Tsai. Cho.1. I am focusing on Twitter serving as a process gratiﬁcation. Twitter seems to have strong appeal. deﬁned as ‘‘a feeling that members have of belonging and being important to each other’’ (Chavis. online games (Wu. met in real life. I argue people form social relationships with media actors who are other people on the social network. 2010. Weibull argued that individual needs lead people to use media to satisfy those needs. A uses and gratiﬁcations (U&G) approach is beneﬁcial to exploring these questions because its principle elements include people’s psychological and social needs as well as how media can gratify needs and motives to communicate (Rubin. 2009).
such as listservs and newsgroups of people who shared a common interest like love of dogs or skiing. where the individual ‘‘receives gratiﬁcation only or mainly from being involved in the process of communication behavior. or expectations (Rubin. Twitter cannot offer the strength of ofﬂine feeling of community. p. Steinfeld. People online can choose what media they want to use (Singer. Instead.2. rather than from message content’’ (Cutler & Danowski. as Ruggiero (2000) notes. p. the web offers the potential for interactivity. This process can result in connections between individuals whom never would have met in the face-toface (FtF) world (boyd & Ellison. an internal company social network at IBM. A medium can ‘‘facilitate or restrict’’ (Weibull. p. In other words. U&G is a psychological communication perspective because rather than attend to the direct impact of media use (Rubin. Therefore. As a theoretical framework. They can both send and receive messages simultaneously through media such as Twitter. It is important to note that Internet communication has in some ways nulliﬁed the traditional senderreceiver model. we must focus on needs gratiﬁed through media use. such as Twitter. although the theoretical underpinning remains the same. it focuses on ‘‘what purposes or functions the media serve for a body of active receivers’’ (Fisher. as an online social media. so if they pick Twitter and stick with it. Ellison. capitalizing on the web’s potential for interaction that is absent in more static communication forms (Rogers. Zhao (2006) found that people who use the Internet frequently have many more social ties than light users. Based on this theoretical framework. Similarly. (1974) posit that U&G explains how people use media to gratify needs. An active audience is at the core of this approach. including social-networking sites. U&G suggests that people can select from many media. 2009a) to participate or select media messages. whereby active Twitters users form relationships through the process of using the social network. 1998) with a simple click of the mouse. Even Blanchard’s (2007) sense of virtual community (SOVC) measures too strong a need for community than could be expected to be gratiﬁed in computer-mediated communication (CMC). such as the sense of belonging and feeling of membership based on reciprocal relations. The gratiﬁcation of the need for connection being measured in this study is similar to the ‘‘we-ness’’ (p. using social and psychological factors as a guide or ﬁlter (Rubin. Paredes. 134) the possibility a user will gratify a need through the medium based in part on the amount of time the individual chooses to spend with the medium. and Lampe (2009) studied Beehive. so using these functions mediates the relationship between being active on Twitter and gratiﬁcation of the need to connect to other Twitter users. This study focuses on the gratiﬁcation of one speciﬁc need. the emotional intensity. 1985. 270). Gratiﬁcation of the need to connect with others on Twitter is a process gratiﬁcation. 1993). 2009b). Active Twitter use will be the strongest predictor of a gratiﬁcation of a need to connect with other people on Twitter. and identify consequences that follow from these needs. Ellison.’’ Granovetter’s (1973) concept of weak ties is useful to explain the gratiﬁcation of the need for connection. which he deﬁnes as connection with others that is less apparent in more traditional media. 1985). According to U&G. The Internet offers an alternative setting with a different set of expectations than face-to-face communication (Bargh & McKenna. 2007). Some media may invite a less active audience (Blumler. education. SOVC relies on formal group membership in virtual communities. It is not the act of using a particular Twitter function – such as tweeting and retweeting – that has the effect of gratifying a need to connect with other Twitter users. . Hampton and Wellman (2003) found that Internet access and online discussion groups bolster contact among community members. such as newspapers or television. 1978. 2004). the gratiﬁcation of the need for connection examined in this study relies on less formal relationships between people. and Scharrer (2002) used to explain the closeness that women found on Oprah Winfrey’s online community ‘‘O Place.M. mediated by usage of Twitter tools while controlling for age. Johnson and Yang (2009) found that social motives were important to Twitter users. 1590). 133). which makes using U&G even more relevant to online media (Ko. such as Twitter. and the reciprocation between people. U&G focuses on social and psychological needs. and found the employees most active on the site had stronger connections with others on the online network. Bolstering the relationship between U&G and gratiﬁcation of a need to connect with others is Wenner’s (1985) contention that media can be a basis for social contact. It is the fact that by taking these actions users are having a form of computer-mediated conversation with other people. Furthermore. U&G supports the premise of this research that the people who gratify a need to connect with other to the greatest extent on Twitter are those who spend the most time actively using the medium.. The weak ties concept applies to this current study because I predict that the more time people spend on Twitter. 2000). 1979). this study highlights individuals’ media needs. offer potential for gratifying this need for connection with others. In this sense. I posit that those who spend the most time Twitter would be most likely to gratify this need to connect with other people compared with those who are less active. 165). although through weaker connections than in the FtF world. and income. Katz et al. DiMicco. 2009b. wants. To understand media use through this perspective. He deﬁnes the strength of a tie between people as a combination of the amount of time. Following Weibull’s (1985) structural model of media use. Uses and gratiﬁcations (U&G) CMC. Steinfeld. Homans’ (1950) words from long ago still ring true: ‘‘The more frequently persons interact with one another.G. and Lampe (2008) found that the more intensely people used Facebook. 2. 1980. Yet. U&G proposes that communication behavior is goal-directed and purposeful in that people choose based on their needs. Twitter must be meeting needs in some way. such as a print newsletter or newspaper. active user may be a better term than active audience when applied to Twitter. 1974). it is by using Twitter and its functions that people gratify their need to connect with others. which generate expectations that lead to different patterns of media use to gratify these needs (Katz et al. 2009b). gender.3. which are gratiﬁed through the choice an individual makes to pick a medium. Chen / Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 755–762 757 gratiﬁcation of the need for connection in the current study utilizes some of the ideas of SOC. Therefore. the greater their perceived connections with strangers. 1997). although it is assumed that audience members may vary in their level of activity in a continuum from active to passive where people may make rational decisions to reject or accept particular media (Rubin. 148) that Cooks. How U&G explains gratiﬁcation of the need to connect U&G explains how the active audience (or user) would seek out a computer-mediated medium to gratify a psychological need. gratiﬁcation of the need to connect with others on Twitter fosters para-social gratiﬁcation (Wenner. As a result. a medium or message is a ‘‘source of inﬂuence with the context of other possible inﬂuences’’ (Rubin. understand motives for media use. U&G helps explain this phenomenon because. the greater their potential to gratify a need to connect to other people on the social-networking site. a need to connect with others. the stronger their sentiments of friendship for one another are apt to be’’ (p. and he notes these ties incorporate a feeling of belonging. this study hypothesizes: H1. the mutual conﬁding. 2. race. p.
19) Square root transformation was used for both active months and hours per week on Twitter to adjust for positive skew. M = 3. the focal independent variables. and most were college educated (M = 17. which was converted to hours per week on Twitter for ease of interpretation. U&G research has found that self-reports are an accurate way for people to provide data about their media use and communication motives (Rubin.9%). This lead to removal of 17 respondents who did not have their own Twitter accounts. . Chen / Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 755–762 3. frequency of usage of Twitter functions was predicted to mediate the relationship between active time on Twitter and gratiﬁcation of the need to connect with others on Twitter. Nonnecke. 3. or using other Twitter functions. Low income was deﬁned as $60.000 (23. 2007). a population vital to this study. Hadlock. In this way. 3.41 years old (SD = 11. and demographic variables. which is useful for locating members of a small. The ﬁve questions were summed into an index that had high reliability (Cronbach’s a = . Twitter’s @reply and direct message functions were employed to send the survey link to Twitter users who have a lot of followers and tweet on a variety of subjects. Martin. However. 1999.758 G.000 or less (40. over the course of 7 days in November 2009. so a questionnaire was judged the best method for this research.001 or more (31. I aimed to reach as many Twitter users as possible. which made them outside the scope of Institutional Review Board approval for this project.com.7%) and other because of a lack of racial variance in the sample.6%). Using a U&G framework. Sampling techniques To ensure validity of the sample. 3.’’ ‘‘I feel comfortable communicating with other people on Twitter. which is too small a subset of the total Internet-using population to make a methodology. gratiﬁcation of their need to connect with others on Twitter. an attempt was made to create a varied sample. On average. These drawbacks make knowing the full population impossible. @replies. Kehoe & Pitkow. 2008. Mediating variables Using the U&G approach. Chiquer & Pretty. the active audience construct intrinsic to a U&G approach was conceptualized as active time on Twitter. A response rate could not be calculated because a random sample was not used. this concept was narrowed to gratiﬁcation of a need to connect with others on Twitter. Operational deﬁnitions Because Twitter is a medium that allows people to both send and receive messages simultaneously. Couper & Miller. Sampling frame Twitter lacks a public membership list or a central registry similar to a phone directory.53 years) and female (60. 2003. such as a randomly sampled telephone survey. Method 3. and other encompassed those who did not answer the question (4. high was $90. Links to the questionnaire were repeatedly tweeted as well as posted on the researcher’s Facebook page and media blog.3. In addition. reading tweets. As recommended by Rubin (2009a) the active audience construct was measured in a continuum from active to passive.001 to $90. 1999. the number of total people who have Twitter accounts is estimated at about 18 million (‘‘US Twitter Usage. The survey was designed so people who indicated on a screening question that they did not have their own Twitter account could not answer any other questions.4%).89). this study’s dependent variable assesses gratiﬁcation of one of the human needs identiﬁed by Maslow (1987) and Murray (1953). 1996). Surface. To deal with these issues. Survey design A 21-question survey was designed using the free online SurveyGizmo program for use in this study. 2004. Operationalization of variables is explained in detail below. Each person who received the link was asked to pass it onto other Twitter users.’’ These questions were developed based on research of sense of community indices (Blanchard. it provides a way to reach a small group of Twitter users to understand this burgeoning medium in an exploratory fashion. Then they answered questions about their use of Twitter.8. 1975). 2001. and direct messages. SD = .93.1%). Active use was deﬁned as tweeting. Thompson. 3. Two operational deﬁnitions were used. SD = 7. Chavis & Pretty. 2009b). Sheehan. SD = 2. online surveys offer the advantage of reaching people who regularly use the Internet. 1996).5.’’ ‘‘I feel like I ﬁt in on Twitter.1. such as retweets. respondents used Twitter 12 hours per week (SD = 18. three responses were eliminated from analysis because the respondents indicated their age was younger than 18. It was operationalized through ﬁve Likert-scale-style questions that assessed agreement on a 1–5 scale with 5 being strongly agree and 1 being strongly disagree: ‘‘I feel I am connected to other users on Twitter. In other words. & Levine.M.13. On average.9%) and served as the reference category. & Sanders. scattered target group (Welch.2. 2003). Additionally. While this sampling method does not offer generalizability of results. Responses from an additional 100 people were 3 eliminated because they did not answer most of the independent variable questions. & Preece. Sample A total of 437 people submitted on online questionnaire on SurveyGizmo.’’ and ‘‘I feel like I belong in the Twitter community.19). As this study focuses on an online social-networking site. Family income was dichotomously coded into four categories. use of the Twitter functions themselves is important only to the extent that this usage bolsters the active use of Twitter that leads people to gratify a need to connect Accessed at http://savethemedia. 2007. Survey respondents were asked how many months they actively used Twitter (M = 10.4. Race was dichotomously coded as white (80. following the recommendations of Tabachnick and Fidell (2007).37). 3. Save the Media3. This resulted in a total sample of 317 people.54 years of school.’’ 2009). so including their answers would have had little affect in the analysis. a nonprobability sample was obtained using convenience snowball sampling.’’ ‘‘I have made connections to other people on Twitter. a need to form associations with other people. McMillan. The second way active time on Twitter was measured was by asking respondents how many minutes per day they use Twitter and how many days per week they use Twitter to create a multiplicative index of minutes per week. but these concepts were revised to ﬁt the weak-tie connection predicted on Twitter. an adequate way to amass a large enough sample of Twitter users. This variable was reﬂected and square root transformation was used to adjust for negative skewness. While online surveys have been found to have some weaknesses (Kaplowitz. and then the variable was reﬂected back to restore it to the original scale (Tabachnick & Fidell. respondents were 34. Respondents accessed the questionnaire through an online link and ﬁrst were asked to consent to participate in the study and assert that they are 18 years or older. so creating a random sampling frame from the population is problematic (Andrews. middle was $60.6.
Hollenbaugh. and @replies explain 46.7. log = logarithmically transformed variable.56** .17.50) was deﬁned as repeating another Twitter user’s message. and @replies predict whether people will gratify a need to connect with others on Twitter. 4. Tweets (M = 1472. and that active users select the medium that meets their needs (Tan. coefﬁcients. The main goal of this study was to examine how active users of the social network Twitter gratify a need for connection with other Twitter users.42** . SD = 875. F = 33. 2009. 1 = strongly disagree. Variables used as controls were age. r = .35.63** . 3 = neutral. SD = 7.001) and hours per week on Twitter (b = .1%) and does not send direct messages (36.05).47. U&G has been used more frequently in recent years to examine needs gratiﬁed through use of online applications. showing support for H1 (Table 2). Three of these Twitter functions were operationalized by asking respondents to log onto their Twitter proﬁle pages and record the number of tweets. total tweets. This gratiﬁcation is a para-social gratiﬁcation (Wenner. Square root transformation was used for followers and following to adjust for moderate skew. Collectively. SR = square root transformed variable. This type of connection is explained by Granovet- Responses coded 5 = strongly agree. Use of Twitter functions also positively correlates with gratiﬁcation of this need for connection. active months. offering support for the hypothesized focal relationship (Table 1).47. hours per week. N = 317. In the third model. 2005. p < . Discussion The U&G approach has been found to be a useful framework for Internet research (Bumgarner.75.05) comparing the variance explained in model one with the variance explained in model three shows that adding the Twitter usage variables signiﬁcantly increases the amount of variance explained in gratiﬁcation of the need to connect. Results H1 predicted that people who seek out Twitter most actively would gratify a need to connect with others on Twitter to a greater extent than other users. p < .01.77) were deﬁned as private messages on Twitter. Results from hierarchical OLS regression conﬁrm these ﬁndings. Collectively. with frequency of tweeting showing the strongest relationship (r = . This suggests that active months on Twitter. family income.01) and gratiﬁcation of the need to connect to others on Twitter. F = 17. LaRose et al. both active months on Twitter (b = . p < . and direct messages.52** . education. 4 = agree. F = 17. The core of the U&G approach is that it asks what people do with media. 1980) of using a medium. F = 82. total tweets (b = . Kaye. 2005. 1979). 2007. Wu et al. mediated by use of Twitter functions. 2000. Raacke & Bonds-Raacke. Furthermore.63.01). education. This connection is an informal camaraderie that derives from Maslow’s (1987) need to belong and Murray’s (1953) need to afﬁliate. p < .5% of the variance (R2 = . Ko.001). p < . Control variables This study sought to isolate the effect of the relationship between the active time on Twitter and gratiﬁcation of the need to connect with others on Twitter.40** . Followers (M = 421. When Twitter function variables are added into the equation in model two.001). explaining 47. showing partial support for H1. 2006). not what the media does to people (Swanson.4% of the variance in gratiﬁcation of the need for connection (R2 = . Chen / Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 755–762 759 with others on Twitter. This shows Table 1 Pearson’s r correlation. 2010. 5. p < . Total tweets became the most important predictor of connection (b = .18) were deﬁned as the number of people who opt to receive the tweets of a survey participant.33. r = . Retweeting (M = 12.9%).. 2010). total tweets.001). 2008. Sending an @Reply (M = 14.25. 1985).3% of the variance in the dependent variable.23. p < . p < .35.98. followed by average @replies per week (b = .44** support for the hypothesized contention that use of Twitter functions mediates the focal relationship between active Twitter use and gratiﬁcation of the need to connect with other on Twitter. 2008. gender. Chung & Kim. Joinson. 2002..G.220.127.116.11. .01). and following. this study tested the U&G principle that users can gratify their needs through the very process (Cutler & Danowski.M. hours per week on Twitter lost signiﬁcance.05) remain the only statistically signiﬁcant predictors of gratiﬁcation of the need for connection. It holds that multiple media compete for users’ attention. p < .. The interpersonal aspect of a social media such as Twitter makes the U&G approach particularly suitable because U&G focuses on people’s psychological and social needs.48.001) show signiﬁcant positive relationships with gratiﬁcation of the need for connection. 3.11. gratiﬁcation of the need to connect with others on Twitter (R2 = . First bivariate relationships were assessed using Pearson’s r correlation coefﬁcients. 2 = disagree. while controlling for demographic variables. SD = 2662. Direct messages (M = 2. and logarithmic transformation was used for the more severely skewed @reply. and active months (b = . In model one. a Additive indices of Likert-scale questions. p < . and race) were added. but active months (b = . This aspect of U&G is particularly salient for Twitter use because it explains how people ﬁrst select this medium and then use it to meet their psychological or social needs. LaRose & Eastin. family income. SD = 33. Zhao. regardless of content.01). Results show a moderate positive relationship between active Twitter use (active months. 2004.001) became a less important predictor of gratiﬁcation of the need for connection.17. and tweets variables. so it is beneﬁcial to control for demographic variables that have been found to be related to Internet use (Kraut et al. Direct Messages was so severely skewed that it was dichotomized as sends direct messages (63. p < .. p < . The other three Twitter function variables were operationalized by asking responding to estimate how many times in an average week they perform each of three functions on Twitter: Retweets. retweet.26.98. ** p < .40.6. 2001. explaining 34. An incremental F test (F = 5. Johnson & Yang. p < . such as social media. and that this relationship does not diminish once demographic control variables are added. and @replies (b = . Following (M = 367.18) was deﬁned as the number of people a survey respondent follows on Twitter. following the recommendations of Tabchnick and Fidell (2007). SD = 953. along with how a particular medium can gratify needs and motives to communicate (Rubin. p < . followers.001). demographic variables (age. Gratiﬁcation of need to connect to others on Twittera Twitter functions Tweets (log) @Replies (log) Retweets (log) Followers (SR) Following (SR) Time spent on Twitter Active months on Twitter (SR) Hours per week on Twitter (log) . they accounted for 47. @replies. 1985) because it offers the opportunity to foster relationships between users.3% of the variance (R2 = .01. Ko et al.48** . when all the variables were entered.22.116) were the number of up to 140character messages that survey respondents sent to their followers since joining Twitter. p < .98. p < . 2008.61) was deﬁned as sending a message to another user that is visible to other users. 2009b).44.001). SD = 29. gender and race.
1986. and.02) 0. as Honeycutt and Herring (2009) found. SR = square root transformed variable.05. this study shows that people who actively seek out Twitter are doing so out of a basic human need to connect with others that they can then gratify by using this computer medium. This supports the idea that U&G is a suitable approach for study of online social networks. R2 À1.005 (0. ** p < .. and paves the way for more research of this kind. A main ﬁnding is that spending a lot of time using Twitter over a series of months is more responsible for gratifying people’s need to connect with others on Twitter than the hours per day people spend on Twitter or the speciﬁc acts of sending messages or repeating others’ messages on Twitter.09* (0.09** (0. 5.001) 0.03 (0. Additionally. Park. 1986). N = 317.35 0.02 (0. McMillan & Chavis.09 0. They also emphasize that an active audience selecting . b Female = 1. 2008.11 0.23 0. Chen / Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 755–762 Table 2 Hierarchical OLS regression analysis of time on Twitter. Twitter usage.06 (0.1. McMillan. up to $60.07) À2. (1974) early call to link the gratiﬁcation of speciﬁc human needs with particular media use. a Sends direct messages = 1.04 À0.005) 0.002 (0.06 À2. Finally. The mediation role of total tweets and @replies is particularly compelling because tweets are the conversation of Twitter.06*** (0. as U&G proposes.01 À0.04 0. 1999.03) À0.003) 0.05) b 0.03 (0.13 0. as some critics contend.06 (0.17 0.05 33. Valenzuela.05 À0.03 À0. OLS = ordinary least squares. log = logarithmically transformed variable. First. this study sought to examine how actively people use Twitter both over the course of a series of months and on a daily basis to assess the active audience concept intrinsic to a U&G approach.34 *** d b a Model 1 b 0. my goal was to see how use of particular Twitter functions.003) b 0. the study aimed to quantify how well people gratify a need to connect with others by using this particular medium.09* (0. It also begins to answer Katz et al. Steinfeld et al.09 (0. These ﬁndings reinforce that communication behavior is goaldirected and purposeful with the active user at the core. 1996.11 0.45 *** Notes Standard errors are shown in parentheses. 2007. and demographic variables on the gratiﬁcation of the need to connect on Twitter index.04 0. Steinfeld. such as Facebook are more likely to feel connected (Ellison. @replies signal the start of that conversation.09*** 17.003) 0. c White = 1.001. Secondly.03) À0.04) 0. Implications These ﬁndings conﬁrm earlier research that found that people who are active on social networks.04) 0.17 0.10 (0.47 0.40*** (0.05 À0. d The reference group is low income.04) 0.760 G. * p < . but that it is a medium that people actively seek out to gratify a need to connect with others.26 0.09 0.95 82.00 (0.008 (0. (2002) used to describe the connection women found on Oprah Winfrey’s online community ‘‘O Place.46 0. Clearly.25 0. mediate the relationship between active time on Twitter and gratifying a need to connect with other users.45 b 0.’’ the distant relations Littau (2009) found online.M.75*** 0.09** (0.111*** (0. Variables Active months on Twitter (SR) Hours per week on Twitter (SR) Total tweets (log) Retweets (log) @Replies (log) Direct Messages Followers (log) People followed (log) Gender Racec Age Education Income Middle High Missing Intercept F value R2 Adj.01) 0. & Lampe. Yet. and the connection that Hampton and Wellman (2003) found in online discussion groups.22 0.001 (0. Chiquer & Pretty.03) À0.03) 0.33*** 0.01.002 (0.) This study found evidence of the we-ness that Cooks et al.06*** (0.03) À0.003) 0.03) 0.04) 0.03) À0.03 (0.98*** 0.06) 0.10 0.12 (0.06) 0. spending time on Twitter over the course of a week and actually using the medium through tweeting and sending @replies are also important if people want to gratify a need to connect with others through the social medium. ter’s (1973) concept of weak ties between individuals and is a weaker version of the feeling of community researchers have found in the ofﬂine world (Chavis et al.00 0. *** p < .11 0.40 0. these ﬁndings offer supports for the idea that Twitter is not just virtual noise of people talking at each other.35 Model 2 b 0.002 (0.03) 0.10 Model 3 b 0.003 (0.. & Kee.000. such as tweeting and retweeting.02) 0. 2009.
The World Wide Web Journal. frequency of use of other social media. C. 58(1). A. LaRose. & boyd. J. (2001). American Journal of Sociology. D. such as level of extraversion. NY: Harcourt. & Danowski. d. boyd. Journalism Quarterly. A. (1986). (2008). Hampton. A.. Electronic survey methodology: A case study in reaching hard-to-involve Internet users. & Gurevitch. Sense of community through Brunswick’s lens: A ﬁrst look. but it does not explain what type of person stays with Twitter. J. Chen / Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 755–762 761 media is still viable even though today’s media landscape offers so many more options than it did in the past. (2008). (2002). Ellison. Littau. T. Internet Paradox Revisited. 13(1). Katz (Eds. New York. Internet uses and gratiﬁcations: A structural equation model of Internet advertising. Journal of Community Psychology. MASS: The MIT Press. S. V. Oklahoma. Retrieved from http://blog. Johnson.1089/cpb. The author thanks Ki Arnould for assisting with that version. and what is different about these two groups. G. blog. J. C. M. (2004). B. 27(6). (2000). Social media stats: Myspace music growing. The Twitter Explosion. A comparison of web and mail survey response rates. & Wandersman. C. A social congnitive theory of Internet uses and gratiﬁcations: Toward a model of media attendance. K. City and Community. M. Women and everyday uses of the Internet (pp. B. S. J. (2009. (2007). Paper presented at the Communication Technology Division of the annual convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Boston..edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.1089/cpb.... Several variables are worthy of consideration: Motivations for Twitter use. A. pdf. It’s a blog. February 28). E. Journal of Community Psychology. S. The uses of mass communications: Current perspectives on gratiﬁcations research (pp.2007. 1-28.. 55.. Chiquer. 395–413. July 17). Maslow. In M.1016/j.2009.edu/~herring/honeycutt. & Yang. In Motivation and personality (3rd ed. Social integration and mass media use among adolescents: A case study.html. doi:10. 77–84. G. J. Chung. and personality variables. and further development. 24... Katz. 94–101.014. Public Opinion Quarterly.. (2005). A. A. 643–658. (2002). & Roberts. Beverly Hills. 14. D. Twitter’s big move.1177/009365027900600102. M. & Pitkow. Blumler & E. P. Neighboring in Netville: How the Internet supports community and social capital in a wired suburb. 22(4). First Monday. Katz (Eds. (2004). 635–642. New York. & Eastin. (2007). C. B. The virtual social capital of online communities: Media use and motivations as predictors of online and ofﬂine engagement via six measures of community strength. 16(2). (1974). 11(2). D. and predictors of outcomes. M. MA. N. M. D. (2009. Nielsen Wire.. (2009). (1950). Journal of Community Psychology. (2005). The role of theory in uses and gratiﬁcations studies. (2000). Acknowledgement An earlier version of this manuscript was presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Midwinter Conference in Norman. Donath. P. 831–835. doi:10. A. & Pretty. M.herring. 19–32). 1657–1666.chb. Internet uses and gratiﬁcations: Understanding motivations for using the Internet.. S. D. & Tseng. W. P. C.. McMillan. S. Brace. 60(1). Paper presented at the Joint 9th WEBKDD and 1st SNA-KDD Workshop ‘07 in San Jose. Understanding Internet usages: A social-cognitive approach to uses and gratiﬁcations. A. (1974). blog. (1978). International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction. (2007).. D.. Audience activity and media use. 297–306.). S. and scholarship. R. New York.com/webnewser/social_nets/ twitter_a_gateway_drug_to_fullblown_media_narcissism_109962. CA: SAGE. X. (2007).. Computers in Human Behavior. (1987). Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. (1999). Raacke. Joinson. & Miller.pdf. CA. 358–377. 10(6). Process gratiﬁcation in aging cohorts.. doi:10. D. Paper presented to the conference on human factors in computer systems (CHI) at the 26th annual SIGGCHI conference in Florence. C. Developing a sense of virtual community measure. D.2. 12(11). 139–167)..G.. Cooks. (1996). (1980). J. Annual Review of Psychology.com. 57–70. (Doctoral Dissertation). 269–277. The uses of mass communications: Current perspectives on gratiﬁcations research (pp. R. Boneva. D. 68(1). Popkin. 9–36. Personal journal bloggers: Proﬁles in disclosiveness.. E. (1993). Bumgarner. Y. Public Opinion Quarterly. Hadlock. N. A. J. T. M. A. The Human Group. June/July). The strength of weak ties. LaRose. 24(4).com/id/18445274/. Retrieved from http:// jcmc. This offers support for the idea that the time people spend on Twitter fosters computer-mediated relationships that enable people to gratify their need to connect with others..ellison. & McKenna.nielsen. 277–311. & Scharrer. Future research should focus on why some people continue using Twitter for months while others abandon it after a few tries. M. Granovetter.. Fisher. S.. W. Paasonen (Eds. 72(8).. Kraut. Retrieved from http://www. McMillan. (2007. G. American Journalism Review.. M. (1996). (1986). M. Surveying the territory: GVU’s ﬁve www user surveys. Retrieved from http://ella. (2010). Communication Research. S. J. R. Blumler & E. 169–174. A. & Kim. J. J. B. Cambridge. 1(3). B. E. N. Journal of Advertising. (2007). G. Cho. B. Communication Monographs. B.html. (2003).06. Honeycutt.. (2004). H. S.. H. Cutler. factor structure. H. 2010. Kaplowitz. Couper. S. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Why we Twitter: Understanding microblogging usage and communities. NY: Peter Lang. Journal of Community Psychology. C.. M. A. 26(6). Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. Twitter: A gateway drug to full-blown media narcissism. You have been poked: Exploring the uses and gratiﬁcations of Facebook among emerging adults. Murray. P.com. J. (2009. BT Technology Journal. Cummings. Italy. blog world. 315–325. WebNewser [Weblog]. 19(4). The virtual community: Homesteading on the electronic frontier. (2003). CA: SAGE. N. Chavis. . Diffusion of new media: New directions. 6–23. Journal of Community Psychology. Explorations in personality. Rogers. Nonnecke. E. Blumler.indiana.). B. 71–82. References Andrews. Kehoe. Beyond microblogging: Conversation and collaboration via Twitter. E. gratiﬁcations.. & Chavis. M. Utilization of mass communication by the individual. Consalvo & S. In J. & Levine. 5. 98–105. Ko. New York. M. 2010. CyberPsychology and Behavior. Blogging activity among cancer patients and their companions: Uses.. R. NY: Macmillan. The beneﬁts of facebook ‘‘friends’’: Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Paper presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix. Bargh. & Bonds-Raacke. G. H. Chavis. & Co. M. Beverly Hills. New York: Oxford Hill. A. Web survey methods: Introduction. (1973). Ariens.1093/poq/ nfh006. E. Hogge. 59(2). 78(6). in March. J.). H. Song. Farhi. Rubin.. C.msnbc. Paper presented at the proceedings of the forty-second Hawai’i international conference on system sciences in Los Alamitos.M. Looking at. looking up or keeping up with people? Motives and use of Facebook. doi:10. M. D. Blumler.msn. Retrieved from http://jcmc.. Hollenbaugh. Homans.0056. NY: Harper and Row. 185–210.slis. 12(4). D. 75–81. doi:10.edu/vol12/issue4/ellison. ‘‘There’s ‘O Place’ like home’’: Searching for ‘community on Oprah. Mass Communication Review. Steinfeld. 2(4). 1360–1380. L. Johnstone. R. Social Science Computer Review. 827–830. The Internet and social life. The review of the sense of community index: Current uses.. 35–47). Public displays of connection. reliability. Myspace and Facebook: Applying the uses and gratiﬁcations theory to exploring friend-networking sites. history. MSNB. G.. (1999). Blanchard.. in August 2000. Retrieved from http:// edt. K. (2009). Kiesler.). & Crawford. AZ. Social network sites: Deﬁnition.. 13(2).mediabistro. 573–590. Helgeson. Limitations and future research This study found that those who stick with Twitter are the ones who end up gratifying a need to connect with other people on Twitter.. (2008). (2004). A. & Preece.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/ social-media-stats-myspace-music-growing-twitters-big-move. (pp. H. K. J. & Wellman. Retrieved from http:// www. H. & Herring.indiana. & Ellison. M.. & Pretty. Rheingold.edu/Summer2009/Dissertation/LittauJ-07210-D941/research. 34(2). McMillan. E. Finin. CyberPsychology and Behavior. Sense of Community: Advances in measurement and application. Kaye. D. 73–95. Mastro.2007. G. C. (1953).indiana.. H. (2008). B. V. m. 14. 6(9). (2009). Sense of community: A deﬁnition and theory. M. These ﬁndings reinforce the ideas offered in U&G because they support the idea that those who use Twitter most frequently both over a series of months and by actively tweeting and sending @replies must be getting something out of the experience or they would not stick with it long enough to gratify their need to connect with other users. 24–40. Journal of Social Issues. (1997). 49–74. Uses and gratiﬁcations of Twitter: An examination of user motives and satisfaction of Twitter use. 48(3). This may help shed light on the 53% of variance left unexplained in gratiﬁcation of the need to connect with others on Twitter. Perspectives on human communication. Java. 27(6). In J. & Lampe. C.9946. 26–31). Sense of community. M. Paredes. CA. (1979).asp. May 8).missouri. 57. Twitter nation: Nobody cares what you’re doing. & Eastin. Ko.. W. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. L. Atlantic Journal of Communication..
165–184). pp.html.1016/j. From paper to pixels: Moving personnel surveys to the Web. Rubin. D. G. Rosengren.07. Online journalists: Foundations for research into their changing roles.07. Martin. Uses and gratiﬁcations: An evolving perspective on media effects. A. C. doi:10. L. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. CA: Sage. Mass communications theories and research. E. L. B. . September 14). (1985).). Nabi & M. Uses-and-gratiﬁcations perspective on media effect.nytimes. Park. E. J. Wenner. Political communication research and the uses and gratiﬁcations model: A critique. Sampling by referral in a dispersed population. In J.html. New York. 434–445. In R. Ruggiero. (1979). F. A. Bryant & M.2009. K. E.). L. C.. Personnel Psychology. (1975). & P.. A. The SAGE handbook of media processes and effects (pp. (2009). (1998). M.. Palmgreen (Eds. doi:10. T.. (2009.edu/vol11/issue3/zhao. 237–245..html. US Twitter usage surpasses earlier estimates. In Using multivariate statistics (5th ed. N. 29. New York: Routledge. B. (2000). C. 1-19. & Fidell. Brave new world of digital intimacy. Paper presented at the fourth international conference on Communities and Technologies of the ACM in University Park.pdf. (2007). Zarella. Uses and gratiﬁcations theory in the 21st century. L.033.indiana. Los Angeles Times..B.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all. (2001).html.002.. Mass Communication and Society.edu/vol14/issue1/singer. 39(2). J. B... doi:10. NY: Macmillan. Wenner. (2008). Is there social capital in social network site?: Face use and college students’ life satisfaction. Washington. Wu. D. D.. Falling in love with online games: The uses and gratiﬁcations perspective. On Twitter.appdev.762 G.indiana. N. C. & Sanders. H. E-mail survey response rates: A review. L. mindcasting is the new lifecasting.C. Sheehan. (2009a). K.M. Welch. S. & Lampe. Thompson. C. Wang. Structural factors in gratiﬁcations research. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 56(1). Zhao. Chen / Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 755–762 Thompson. Media gratiﬁcations research: Current perspectives (pp. Emarketer. L. The nature of news gratiﬁcations. Beverly Hills. 14. 6(2). PA. NY: Pearson. (2003). trust. DiMicco. The New York Times. 147–159). A.aspx?R=1007271. M. J. In K. State of the Twittersphere.latimes. 3(1). In K. self-esteem. September 5). N. (2009).2010. Tabachnick.).. & Lampe. Journal of ComputerMediated Communication. Oliver (Eds. 6(1).).1016/j. Rubin.. 1862–1871. Retrieved from http://jcmc. B. Do Internet users have more social ties? A call for differentiated analyses of Internet use. Computers in Human Behavior. B. June 2009. M. Sarno. Oliver (Eds. S. A. Valenzuela. (2008. Palmgreen (Eds.emarketer. Beverly Hills. Swanson. Weibull.x. Social capital.com/2008/09/07/magazine/ 07awareness-t. March 11). and participation. New York. Retrieved from http://jcmc. M. and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Retrieved from http:// cdnqa. Ellison. (2010).10836101. Tan.. (1985). Media gratiﬁcations research: Current perspectives (pp. Rosengren. Retrieved from http://latimesblogs.. 875–901. S. Media effects: Advances in theory and research (3rd ed. 197–227. Retrieved from http://www. G. 11(3). Singer. CA: Sage. 171–193).2008. (1985). Wenner. Retrieved from http://www. F. Ellison. S. 26. D. (2009. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. & P. 123–157).indiana. (2009).edu/vol6/ issue2/sheehan. (2006). 37–53. 3–37. L. S. L. A. Retrieved from http://jcmc.: SAGE. Surface. E. L.com/technology/ 2009/03/on-twitter-mind.).01474. (2009b). D. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.com/Article. 14(1). A. Steinfeld.chb. Public Opinion Quarterly. Bowling online: Social networking and social capital within organizations. Communication Research.1111/j.hubteam/com/State_of_the_Twittersphere_by_HubSpot_Q4-2008. Steinfeld. & Tsai. S. & Kee.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.