Essays on Online Behavior in Medical Crowdfunding

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Hur, Yunyoung
Hu, Yu Jeffrey
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In the context of medical crowdfunding, this dissertation investigates how individual reactions are diversified as they encounter certain events online. Specifically, this dissertation focuses on the two types of events: the social endorsement cue and the varying physical attractiveness of patients in medical crowdfunding cases. In the first chapter, we examine how the impact of social influence changes in the presence of non-social cues of various strengths in affecting a user’s likelihood to donate. We conduct a large-scale randomized field experiment to find that the impact of social influence depends on its relational informational value in the presence or the absence of alternative credible information sources. The findings of this study suggest that informational social influence dominates normative social influence in this context, contributing to both the literature and the managerial insights by uncovering user behavior in medical crowdfunding and related fields. In the second chapter, we examine the differential impact of physical attractiveness on the two types of prosocial behavior: sharing and donation. Based on the large-scale randomized field experiment, we discover that the impact of physical attractiveness depends on whether the online behavior is private or public, as people behave less restricted in private and behave to manage image in public. The findings of this study contribute to understanding the controversies in the existing research and provide a guideline in building online business strategies.
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