Title: Why vocal minority dominate Chinese microblog discussions: the influence of status difference

Authors: Jun Liu; Pei-Luen Patrick Rau; Na Chen

Addresses: Department of Industrial Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China ' Department of Industrial Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China ' Department of Industrial Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Abstract: Discussions on Chinese microblog space are often dominated by a few users who occupy higher-status positions compared to the silent majority. In this study, we examined the effects of status differences on the discussion motivation and leadership in a Chinese microblog site. An online experiment was conducted by inviting 16 sophomores (low status) and 16 senior (high status) students to a two-week microblog discussion. The results revealed that low-status users were more motivated by personal benefits than high-status users. High-status users were more likely to be nominated as group leaders, although they did not show more leadership behaviours. Through these findings, we explain why the high-status minority dominate Chinese microblogs and provide suggestions for encouraging more diverse voices.

Keywords: China; group leadership; microblog leaders; microblog motivation; minority dominance; mobile microblogs; self-construal; social media; status difference; vocal minority; microblog discussions; personal benefits; diversity.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMC.2016.075020

International Journal of Mobile Communications, 2016 Vol.14 No.2, pp.118 - 132

Available online: 25 Feb 2016 *

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