Researchers agree that communities are a valuable source of positive outcomes for
individuals and society, however much debate revolves around the question: what is a
community? Community psychology research offers the suggestion that a psychological
sense of community (PSOC) among individual members of a group is at the heart of any
community. The current study builds upon the McMillan and Chavis (1986) PSOC
model, applying their theory and Peterson and colleagues’ (2008) measure to the highly
anonymous, mediated environment of news blogs. In addition, this research examines
several individual-level variables that are hypothesized to be related to PSOC online in an
attempt to better understand community functioning and formation. An analysis of
ninety-three members of three major news blogs revealed that PSOC does form online,
although at moderate levels. A regression analysis revealed that individuals’ level of
identification with the blog, their history reading the blog, and trust in members of the
blog were all significantly and positively related to PSOC. In addition, the motivations
for using the blog of personal fulfillment, information seeking/media checking, and
expression/affiliation were significantly and positively related to PSOC. This research
suggests that understanding the variability in PSOC, as explained by these individuallevel
characteristics, has significant implications for the journalism industry and society
as a whole.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. June 2010. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Dan Sullivan. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 57 pages, appendix A.
Hopkins-Best, Natalie C..
Psychological sense of community within mediated communities: the case of the news blog.
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