How Does Social Media Trigger Collective Efficacy Through Deliberation? A Field Experiment

Daniel Halpern


This article tests which types of affordances in social network sites (SNS) augment the effects of deliberation on collective efficacy in an experimental setting. For this purpose, 151 participants commented on the Facebook and YouTube accounts of the White House and several other federal agencies for two weeks. Results show that the various affordances of these channels contribute to shape discussion networks, which in turn affect deliberation and collective efficacy. More specifically, the experiment shows that (a) deliberation in SNS has a marginally significant effect on collective efficacy, (b) SNS that allows networked information access (Facebook) causes the highest increase in collective efficacy, (c) cognitive involvement and user engagement explain the increase in collective efficacy, and (d) interactivity positively affects users’ engagement.


social media, online deliberation, cognitive involvement, user engagement, discussion networks, collective efficacy

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