Journalists like to use Twitter if they need an easily accessible “voice from the public.” However, do active tweeters not differentiate themselves in terms of their personality structure from the tweeting population? Does the mood on Twitter have little to do with the overall population? Who are these tweeting tweeters?
Twitter takes an important role in journalistic coverage but also in communication research. Numerous research projects focus on the analysis of tweeted contents, the distribution of hashtags or follower-followed structures. Journalists, on the other hand, do not only use tweets of politicians or prominent figures in diverse contexts but also include opinions of “normal citizens” as “reactions of the Internet” into their coverage. The attention that has been paid to the micro-blogging service is relatively high compared to a relatively low usage of Twitter in Germany. This situation can be explained by considering the easy access to publicly expressed contents and available interfaces provided by Twitter. The small effort that is necessary to access data and direct quotes poses the risk to science and journalism to overestimate the significance of expressed opinions and existing structures on Twitter. This does not only apply to the small number of onliners who actually use Twitter compared to the overall population but also to the type of person that uses Twitter as a public stage to express personal opinions. While there is relatively meaningful information on the number of users in Germany, little is known about the percentage of active tweeters and their personality characteristics.
The project aims to contribute to close this research gap and to answer the questions on how big the share of active tweeters is, what personality characteristics active tweeters show and if they differentiate from the overall population regarding their personality structure.
Supported by a professional survey company, an online survey with about 800 participants will be conducted in order to answer the research questions. The sample consists of a representative image of the Internet using community aged 18 and older (n=600) in Germany. After fulfilling the online-representative basis sample, Twitter users who tweet at least several times a week will be over-recruited until a quoted sample of n=200 has been reached.
Research programme: RP1 - Transformation of Public Communication