Examining the Implications of Negativity Perceptions for Enterprise Social Media Use

Ward van Zoonen*, Anu E. Sivunen, Jeffrey W. Treem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many organizations fail to optimally benefit from voluntary communication and collaboration tools–e.g. enterprise social media (ESM)–where use depends on workers’ discretionary behaviors. This study explores how ESM use is informed by employees’ perceptions of the content these media convey. Specifically, this paper reports on a survey study (N = 619) to examine the relationship between negativity perceptions and ESM use, through pro-sharing norms and knowledge-sharing intentions. The findings indicate that negativity perceptions of online communication are met with avoidance responses by organizational members and are associated with low platform usage. This relationship is partially mediated by pro-sharing norms and knowledge-sharing intentions, such that negativity perceptions undermine pro-sharing norms and lower knowledge-sharing intention, ultimately reducing ESM use. The findings highlight a potential difference in the underlying psychological mechanisms related to negative media content in organizational environments compared to public and mass media environments. This study integrates media selection literature and media psychology perspectives to study technology adoption and expands our understanding of the potential barriers and drivers of platform use in organizational contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMedia Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology


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