Habit formation in online communities

Li Gan, Sirkka Jarvenpaa, Bin Gu, Geng Yang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


A long standing dilemma of online communities is that a small group of community members account for a disproportionate amount of contributions. Prior studies built on intent-based explanations cannot fully explain the phenomenon. This paper introduces the concept of habit formation as a key driver of individual contributions and investigates how habit is formed and how it influences individuals' participation behavior in online communities. We propose that a threshold of behavioral repetitions exists for individuals to develop a habit. Once the threshold is surpassed, the habit of participation grows stronger and becomes self-reinforcing. We also propose that habit formation weakens the influence of reciprocity, social capital and competition on user participation in virtual communities. Using a panel data of 130,882 postings across 115 discussion boards, we find support for all the hypotheses. Our analysis contributes to the emerging literature on routinized information technology use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationICIS 2009 Proceedings - Thirtieth International Conference on Information Systems
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event30th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2009 - Phoenix, AZ, United States
Duration: Dec 15 2009Dec 18 2009


Other30th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2009
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPhoenix, AZ


  • Habit formation
  • Human behavior
  • Longitudinal study
  • Virtual community

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems


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