Do personality traits predict the level of participation in online cancer communities? A comparison of the big five personality traits for posters and lurkers (in collaboration with CCNSW)

  • Blount, Yvette (Primary Chief Investigator)
  • Badreddine, Basma (Associate Investigator)
  • Quilter, Michael (Supervisor)

Project: Research

Project Details


The aim of this study was to examine the personality traits of cancer-affected people who are users of the Cancer Council Online Community (CCOC), and whether this influences their online posting behaviour. The users in this study were defined as either posters (users that contribute regularly to the online community forums) or lurkers (those who visited the online community but did not contribute). The Cancer Council Online Community provides support for cancer-affected people who experience psychological and emotional challenges. Therefore, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the online community, there is a need to understand how lurking behaviour can be minimised in order to encourage greater participation and meet the needs of all users. That is, we need to better understand why posters contribute and why lurkers do not participate in such discussions.

Key findings

This study examined the personality traits of both posters and lurkers to determine whether personality traits influence users’ decisions to post in the Cancer Council Online Community. To better understand the personality traits of the online community users, qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 42 users of the Cancer Council Online Community (CCOC) incorporating the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality traits. The results showed that extraversion, emotional stability, and agreeableness influence posting behaviour in the Cancer Council Online Community, whereas the conscientiousness trait influences lurking behaviour. The openness trait does not impact users’ online behaviour as posters and lurkers exhibited similar attitudes in their openness trait. The study contributes to the literature by providing insights into the impact personality traits have on the decisions of posters and lurkers to contribute to discussions in the Cancer Council Online Community
Effective start/end date29/04/1930/11/19