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The Social NetUnderstanding our online behavior$
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Yair Amichai-Hamburger

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199639540

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199639540.001.0001

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The Kindness of Strangers: Prosocial Behavior on the Internet

The Kindness of Strangers: Prosocial Behavior on the Internet

(p.143) Chapter 8 The Kindness of Strangers: Prosocial Behavior on the Internet
The Social Net

Lee Sproull

Caryn A. Conley

Jae Yun Moon

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines online prosocial behavior, defined as voluntary intentional actions, taking place on the Internet, to benefit others with no expectation of personal reward. The focus is on understanding prosocial behavior in public online contexts including support group discussion forums, service projects, open collaborative work projects, and citizen science projects. The chapter discusses three main classes of variables that affect prosocial behaviors: Attributes of the online context, individual attributes and motivations, and interaction processes. The chapter describes studies of prosocial behavior in a variety of contexts that draw on diverse theories such as motivation and personality theories, Social Learning Theory, and Social Identity Theory to provide a general overview of how, why, and to what degree people engage in online prosocial behavior. Evidence of the value both to the direct providers of prosocial contributions and their beneficiaries as well as to society at large is presented. The chapter concludes with an overview of opportunities for furthering research on online prosocial behavior by extending the inquiry to include more varied contribution contexts, new technological contexts for helping, and a greater diversity in research methods.

Keywords:   prosocial behaviour, support group, discussion forums, service projects, open collaborative work projects, citizen science projects, Social Identity Theory, Social Learning Theory

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