Can sharing affect liking? Online taste performances, feedback, and subsequent media preferences

B.K. Johnson, B. Van Der Heide

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Web users share media content with each other in order to express tastes and manage impressions. This study examines this growing intersection between mass media use and computer-mediated communication. The consequences of these online taste performances for an individual's subsequent media preferences and media consumption were unknown. The identity shift framework is applied to explain how the display of tastes can alter later preferences. Specifically, an experiment tested for changes in attitudes toward media content after computer-mediated sharing, to examine how attitudes might change as a result of impression management. Taste performances were expected to result in identity shift due to mechanisms of publicness and feedback. A 2 × 3 (publicness × feedback) between-subjects experiment tested these predictions. Participants evaluated and shared artistic photographs. Public sharing led to stronger attitudes among individuals who frequently displayed their tastes online but to weaker attitudes among individuals who rarely shared. Negative feedback consistently weakened attitudes toward shared photos, an effect that persisted for a week. Positive feedback yielded a sleeper effect on the appeal of alternative photos. The results have implications for creators, distributors, and marketers of media content, as well as for social media platforms where media content is shared.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-190
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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