Online Experience in Social Media: Two Paths to Feeling Close and Connected


A basic tenet of self-determination theory is that feeling close and connected to others can lead to optimal life experiences and recent research supports the idea that when people use social media to interact with others, they are likely to feel more related to others. Yet, little is known about whether using social media for more content-focused, less social, pursuits, might lead to the same feelings of relatedness. We examine how relatedness can arise from the interaction between the type of social media goals consumers pursue and their motivational orientation to pursue them. The results, replicated and generalized across three studies, show that there are two paths to connectedness: one when more intrinsic motivations drive social goals, but also, surprisingly, when more extrinsic motivations drive content goals. These effects occur because the experience from extrinsically motivated content goals is converted into one more akin to that for intrinsically motivated social goals.


Keywords: social media, consumer behavior, self-determination theory, motivational orientation, positive outcomes

Hoffman, Donna L. and Novak, Thomas P, Online Experience in Social Media: Two Paths to Feeling Close and Connected (March , 2013). Available at SSRN: or

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