Bowling Together Again: Facilitating the Initiation of Collective Action through Awareness of Others

AbstractOften within communities there is sufficient interest in group-activities and yet they fail to occur because of insufficient individual initiative. This could be due to diffusion of responsibility or uncertainty about the availability of potential participants. Providing information about the number of interested individuals has conflicting implications, and hence an ambiguous impact on the likelihood of activities occurring. Our experiment examines the impact of providing information about community interest on activity initiation. Subjects (n=2000) were given information about the level of interest in a possible activity within their community and the ability to initiate its planning. Results indicate that displaying sufficient interest in an activity is positively associated with willingness to initiate planning. This suggests that Internet applications which 1) provide awareness of shared activity interest and 2) reduce effort required to initiate activity planning could boost collective action and improve community life.


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