Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (792.93 kB)

Social Affiliation Needs as a Motivator of Risky Online Behaviour

Download (792.93 kB)
posted on 2021-11-12, 00:30 authored by Zogg, Antony

In spite of the risks, people often share large quantities of personal information online. The objective of this research was to gain an understanding as to why people take such risks when engaging with others on social networking sites like Facebook. Initially the existence of online communities had to be established, and consideration given to the possibility that these online communities reflected groups found in the real world. The following hypotheses were then tested using an online survey with Likert Scale questions and freeform questions. This data was then triangulated by and supplemented with data received as a result of semi-structured interviews. Interview and survey questions were informed by a full literature review undertaken on the topic. H1: Humans mimic online behaviours including risky behaviours to gain acceptance in online communities. There was insufficient support for this hypothesis. This may be due to the fact that online and real world groups differ in terms of the way in which they communicate. The five senses are not fully engaged in online communication and there is an absence of body language and other non-verbal communication. This difference may determine that there is less need for social affiliation online than in the real world. H2: The need for personal safety online is secondary to the need for social affiliation. Again there was insufficient support for this hypothesis, and even those with online communities of trusted friends drawn from the real world were concerned for their personal safety and configured their privacy settings. However these people were comfortable sharing personal information online with trusted friends, demonstrating that they were under the illusion that their information was private. H3: Humans reflect the values of their friends on social networks to gain their approval. This hypothesis was well supported and indications were that people were more prepared to share personal information online with those who shared their values. They are also unlikely to share controversial information that violated their personal values. The results of this research were viewed through the lens of "The Online Disinhibition Effect" (Suler, 2004), and recommendations made to companies planning online business.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Information Management

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Information Management

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Masters Research Paper or Project



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Information Management


Hooper, Tony