I’ve just been reading a really interesting paper (which coincidentally happens to be written by a couple of kiwis):
…it is suggested that personality traits could therefore influence the type and level of participation within online communities.
In the absence of research specifically addressing this question, this study set out to seek answers to the following questions.
- Do personality traits influence how an individual participates in online community?
- Are certain personality traits indicative of particular behaviours within online community?
- If personality does influence how individuals behave online, are the relatively small number of individuals who are participating dominated by a particular personality trait?
The findings showed that no one personality type was predominant amongst participants, but that motivations for participating varied according to personality type, and that individuals high in certain personality traits (such as neuroticism) are less likely to actively participate in much of the online activity of the community.
The research was based around the NEO-FFI 5 factor personality test. Here is a simplified online version of that test.
Some conclusions that can be drawn are:
Agreeableness – Individuals high in this trait will spend less time on the internet, but are more accepting of new technology. This could be seen as contradictory, however, perceived usefulness does not equate to high use.
Conscientiousness – Individuals high in this trait will spend less time on the internet for ‘unproductive’ or leisure pursuits, but given that they are also more accepting of new technology if they conclude that a specific online activity is productive to their work/study it will be more readily perceived as useful and therefore they will contribute to the level of use.
Extraversion – Individuals high in this trait will spend less time on the internet, but when they do, and when they contribute to online communities, are motivated to voice an opinion and are willing to share information. Less time is spent seeking social spaces online, but their presence in virtual teams encourages a high level of interaction.
Extraverts are also more likely to perceive sender likeability as positive.
Neuroticism – Individuals high in this trait will spend less time online in general, but when online, are more likely to use the internet to find a sense of belonging: women in particular are more likely to spend time on discussion boards and chat rooms but are less likely to play online games and exchange information. They are less likely to perceive the usefulness of new technology and are more likely to perceive sender likeability negatively.
Openness – Individuals high in this trait more likely to be online in general.
The article goes on the explain known behaviours and enablers to participation for each type, but my summary post here is already too long. I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read the paper.