Picture This! Social Influence in a Visually Identified YouTube Environment

Damian Gan, Jiemin Looi*, Alisius Leong, Abigail Chua

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


This study examines how group effects of user-generated comments influence user evaluations and attitudes towards YouTube videos and their subject matter. Two main theoretical frameworks were applied in this study: the Social Identity Approach (SIA) and Social Identification/Deindividuation (SIDE) model. This study provides an update to the earlier research conducted by Walther, DeAndrea, Kim and Anthony (2010), through addressing changes in the YouTube's interface, which now includes visually identifiable users. This study also extends Walther, DeAndrea et al.'s (2010) research by applying the SIA as an alternative way of studying social influence on YouTube platforms. A 2 x 2 x 2 between-subjects factorial design was used in this experiment, which was conducted amongst Singaporean university undergraduates (N = 317). Using a YouTube mock-up page, this research examined the interaction between a controversial video about foreign-born sporting talents (FBST) in Singapore and the accompanying user comments from ingroup (Singaporeans) or outgroup (foreigners) members. Even though the manipulation of outgroup categorization did not work as planned, this study demonstrated that user-generated comments can affect user’s evaluation of the video and attitudes towards the subject matter. Clear evidence of social identification mediating social influence within social groups was observed. The findings of the present study suggest that social identification could occur even with visual information of commenters, contrary to SIDE’s theoretical predictions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2017
Event67th Annual International Communication Association Conference, ICA 2017: Interventions. Communication Research and Practice - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: 25 May 201729 May 2017


Conference67th Annual International Communication Association Conference, ICA 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA
Internet address


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