Challenge Accepted! Evaluating the Personality and Social Network Characteristics of Individuals Who Participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Rory McGloin, Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch


The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a popular campaign on Facebook for raising awareness and money for the research of ALS. Given its unprecedented success, it is important to identify the personality and individual difference characteristics that distinguished participants from non-participants. Using an online survey of Facebook users (N = 261), this study investigates the influence that the Big Five personality variables, narcissism, altruism, online social capital, and online opinion leadership have on participation in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Results indicated that extraversion, openness to experience, and altruism positively predict bridging social capital on Facebook. Facebook users with higher social capital were found to have greater opinion leadership on Facebook, which in turn made them more likely to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. These findings have important implications for predicting which individuals will participate in future online social campaigns, which may help organizers target these audiences.


ALS Ice Bucket Challenge; Big 5 personality characteristics; online social capital; opinion leadership; Facebook; social media campaigns

Full Text:



The ALS Association. (2016, July 25). ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations lead to significant gene discovery. Retrieved from

Ames, D. R., Rose, P., & Anderson, C. P. (2006). The NPI-16 as a short measure of narcissism. Journal of Research in Personality, 40(4), 440–450.

Baay, P. E., Van Aken, M. A. G., De Ridder, D. T. D., & Van der Lippe, T. (2014). Understanding the role of social capital in adolescents’ Big Five personality effects on school-to-work transitions. Journal of Adolescence, 37(5), 739–748.

Buffardi, L. E., & Campbell, W. K. (2008). Narcissism and social networking web sites. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(10), 1303–1314.

Burt, R. S. (1999). The social capital of opinion leaders. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 566, 37–54.

Carpenter, C. J., Boster, F. J., Kotowski, M., & Day, J. P. (2015). Evidence for the validity of a social connectedness scale: Connectors amass bridging social capital online and offline. Communication Quarterly, 63(2), 119–134.

Chiu, C.-M., Hsu, M., & Wang, E. T. G. G. (2006). Understanding knowledge sharing in virtual communities: An integration of social capital and social cognitive theories. Decision Support Systems, 42(3), 1872–1888.

Choi, J., & Kim, H. J. (2016). Influence of SNS User Innovativeness and Public Individuation on SNS Usage Patterns and Social Capital Development: The Case of Facebook. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 32(12), 1–10.

Devaraj, S., Easley, R. F., & Crant, J. M. (2008). Research note —How does personality matter? Relating the five-factor model to technology acceptance and use. Information Systems Research, 19(1), 93–105.

Falzer, P. (2007). Social capital, communication, and mental health. Presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, San Francisco, CA.

Goldberg, L. R. (1993). The structure of phenotypic personality traits. American Psychologist, 48(1), 26–34.

Gosling, S. D., (n.d.). A note on alpha reliability and factor structure in the TIPI. Retrieved February 18, 2017 from

Gosling, S. D., Augustine, A. A., Vazire, S., Holtzmann, N., & Gaddis S. (2011). Manifestations of personality in online social networks: Self reported Facebook-related behaviors and observable profile information. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(9), 483-488. https://doi.10.1089/cyber.20/2010.0087

Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, W. B. (2003). A very brief measure of the Big-Five personality domains. Journal of Research in Personality, 37(6), 504–528.

Grieve, R., & Kemp, N. (2015). Individual differences predicting social connectedness derived from Facebook: Some unexpected findings. Computers in Human Behavior, 51, 239–243.

John, O. P., Naumann, L. P., & Soto, C. J. (2008). Paradigm shift to the integrative Big Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and conceptual issues. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 114-158). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Jung, Y., Gray, R., Lampe, C., & Ellison, N. (2013). Favors from Facebook friends: Unpacking dimensions of social capital. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 11–20). New York, New York, USA: ACM Press.

Kim, E., Scheufele, D. A., Han, J. Y., & Shah, D. (2016). Opinion leaders in online cancer support groups: An investigation of their antecedents and consequences. Health Communication, 236(May), 1-10.

Lampe, C., Vitak, J., & Ellison, N. B. (2013). Users and nonusers: Interactions between levels of adoption and social capital. Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work (pp. 809–820).

Maksl, A., & Young, R. (2013). Affording to exchange: Social capital and online information sharing. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 16(8), 588–92.

Marshall, R., & Gitosudarmo, I. (1995). Variation in the characteristics of opinion leaders across cultural borders. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 8(1), 5–22.

Mo, R., Leung, L., Hao, Y., Wu, X., Xi, R., & Zhang, S. (2014). Examining the mediating roles of microblog use in the relationships between narcissism, social anxiety, and social capital. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, 4(2), 58–75.

Moore, K., & McElroy, J. C. (2012). The influence of personality on Facebook usage, wall postings, and regret. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(1), 267–274.

Pew Research Center (2017). Social media fact sheet. Retrieved February 18, 2017 from

Price, L. L. L., Feick, L. F., & Guskey, A. (1995). Everyday market helping behavior. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 14(2), 255–266.

Putnam, R. D. (1995). Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. Journal of Democracy, 6(1), 65–78.

Seidman, G. (2013). Self-presentation and belonging on Facebook: How personality influences social media use and motivations. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(3), 402–407.

Steel, E. (2014, August 17). 'Ice Bucket Challenge' has raised millions for ALS Association. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Theurer, K., & Wister, A. (2010). Altruistic behaviour and social capital as predictors of well-being among older Canadians. Ageing and Society, 30(1), 157–181.

Williams, D. (2006). On and Off the ’Net: Scales for Social Capital in an Online Era. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2), 593–628.

Zhang, L., Zhao, J., & Xu, K. (2016). Who creates trends in online social media: The Crowd or opinion leaders? Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 21(1), 1-16.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Based at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, USA, The Journal of Social Media in Society is sponsored by the Colleges of Liberal and Fine Arts, Education, Business Administration, and Graduate Studies.