Psychology of Sharing, a NYT study

The Consumer Insight Group of the New York Times did a study on the Psychology of Sharing. Its content has disseminated in some form to various marketers involved with social media. If you were curious, these people are responsible for the "study" which has been quoted with the same subject title. A summary presentation appeared on SlideShare.


  • In-person interviews in major metropolitan areas (New York, Chicago, and San Francisco)
  • Quantitative survey of 2,500 medium/heavy online sharers


  • Sharing is not new, but in the information age we share more content with more users from more sources with more people, more often and more quickly
  • Sharing acts as information management
    • 85% say reading other people's responses helps them understand and process information and events
    • 73% say they process information more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when they share it
Motivations for Sharing:
  • To bring valuable and entertaining content to others
  • To define ourselves to others
  • To grow and nourish our relationships
  • Self-fulfillment ("We enjoy getting credit for it")
  • To get the word out about causes or brands
6 Personas of Sharing:
  • Altruists - share content to be helpful to others, and aspire to be reliable sources of information; prefers email and Facebook
  • Careerists - well-educated sharers want to earn a reputation for bringing value to their networks, preferring content that is more serious and professional in tone; prefers  LinkedIn and email
  • Hipsters - younger sharers “have only known life in the information age” and share cutting-edge and creative content, and they focus on identity-building; prefers Twitter and Facebook
  • Boomerangs - sharers after validation and will respond to positive or negative responses; no strong preference but will share using Facebook, email, Twitter, and blogs
  • Connectors - sees content sharing as a way to stay connected with others and make plans; prefers email and Facebook
  • Selectives - put more thought into what they share and with whom they share it. Because their sharing is more personalized, they expect people to respond to and act on their content; Prefers email
I actually laughed at this part of the study:  Email is the #1 factor that influences sharing since it's perceived as more personal and private.
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