Talk to Act: How Internet Use Empowers Users to Participate in Collective Actions Offline

  • Sandy Schumann
  • Olivier Klein
  • Karen Douglas
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7284)


This study examines how Internet use can empower users to carry out collective actions for an environmentalism movement organization. More precisely, we focused on the impact of online interactivity, i.e., the fact that users can share content online and receive feedback on it from others. The participatory Internet fulfills thereby two preconditions of a sense of psychological empowerment: a) receiving information about the goals and performance of an organization and b) experiencing an effective reward system. Using an experimental design, our results showed that users’ sense of empowerment was indeed increased by online interactivity. Higher sense of empowerment led to stronger willingness to participate in a panel discussion and demonstration for the environmentalist organization. In addition, when users were identifiable with their name and photo as compared to being anonymous while making their contributions, the likelihood to get engaged was higher, mediated by an increased sense of empowerment. The importance of intra-individual processes when studying the impact of Internet use on behavior is discussed, as well as the role of identifiability online.


psychological empowerment collective actions social media anonymity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandy Schumann
    • 1
  • Olivier Klein
    • 2
  • Karen Douglas
    • 3
  1. 1.Université Libre de Bruxelles & F.R.S.-FNRSBelgium
  2. 2.Université Libre de BruxellesBelgium
  3. 3.University of Kent at CanterburyUnited Kingdom

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