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Confirmation of Candidature - Candidate : Melinda Nuttall

Understanding Pro-social Behaviours: Applying Self-Determination Theory in Identifying Motivators for Prosocial Behavioural Choice Online
18 APR 2023
3.30 PM - 5.00 PM

Humans are fundamentally social creatures who use online media sites (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Personal messaging apps) as a part of everyday life to connect to friends, family, and the broader world (Australian Communications and Media Authority [ACMA], 2020). We require social connectedness to provide and receive social support, create and maintain a sense of belonging, increase our social skill development and build healthy self-esteem (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; McLoughlin et al., 2018). Whilst face-to-face prosocial behaviours have been investigated over many years (Helliwell et al., 2017, Kwong & Yan, 2021, Silke et al., 2018, Stiff et al., 2019), online communities now also contribute to our ability to build our social networks and maintain relationships through sharing of thoughts, opinions, and ideas collaboratively online with others. 

There is no question that online communities and communication play an important role in our social worlds. A plethora of research has investigated face-to-face prosocial behaviour (Helliwell et al., 2017, Kwong & Yan, 2021, Silke et al., 2018, Stiff et al., 2019) and the benefits for those who act in prosocial ways in a face-to-face context (Hallar et al., 2022, Silke et al., 2019). We know a healthy need to belong matters - helping us to psychologically thrive - with current research highlighting the benefits of prosocial communication within society overall (Blakey et al., 2019; Silke et al., 2018). Further research has explored negative online behaviours and their impact on wellbeing (Kross et al., 2021, Rounsefell et al., 2020), however, our understanding of prosocial behaviours online is limited. While some research has been undertaken investigating online prosocial behaviours, there are still many gaps in our understanding. To address these gaps, this research will utilise a social learning lens and an exploratory sequential design, aiming to identify what prosocial behaviours people are engaging in online and what motivates this engagement.

For more information, please email the Graduate Research School or phone 0746 31 1088.