Antecedents of blatant benevolence on social media

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With the rise of social media in people’s lives, the tendency to donate through social media platforms has increased tremendously. The positive attitudes of social media users towards online charity initiatives, such as ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, are also gaining traction. Therefore, it is of great value for the charitable organizations to identify the motivational factors that encourage social media users to participate in blatant benevolence. Drawing on costly signalling and self-presentation theories, this study undertakes a multi-method approach with the aim to explore social media users’ motivation of posting prosocial behaviour on social media platforms by identifying the antecedents of blatant benevolence. Using the interview data from 126 social media users, the study first applies rigorous grounded theory analysis to identify factors that lead to blatant benevolence, and subsequently employs a survey method approach, comprising data from 342 social media users, to empirically test the factors identified. Our findings show that desire for social network enhancement and warm glow attainment are the significant drivers that motivate people to post prosocial behaviours on social media. Theoretical and practical implications of our findings for social media behaviour researchers and charity organizations are also discussed in the paper.

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Behaviour and Information Technology