Effects of individuals’ motivations on communications in online health forums

Bing Wu, Shan Jiang, Hsinchun Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Our aim was to analyze the effects of individuals’ motivations, specifically reciprocity, experience, activity, and emotion, on their communications in an online health forum. We employed an exponential random graph approach to analyze concrete models embedded in online health networks. According to the research that we conducted over a 5-year period on a dataset drawn from a global diabetes forum, reciprocal information diffusion occurred in the forum; a high level of online activity had a positive impact for gratification of the individual user. Both having more experience and expressing polarized emotions played an important role in individuals’ post contributions, however these factors had little influence on reply interaction among users. We also modeled post contribution and reply interaction in the same network in respect to the relationship-building processes, which may help in gaining more understanding about the mechanisms underlying communication in online health forums.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-312
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Behavior and Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Communication network
  • Exponential random graph model
  • Individual motivations
  • Online health forum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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