Participant recruitment and data collection through Facebook: the role of personality factors

Participant recruitment and data collection through Facebook: the role of personality factors

International Journal of Social Research Methodology. September
22, 2014, Vol. 19, Issue 1, Pages 2016

As participant recruitment and data collection over the Internet have become more common, numerous observers have expressed concern regarding the validity of research conducted in this fashion. One growing method of conducting research over the Internet involves recruiting participants and administering questionnaires over Facebook, the world’s largest social networking service. If Facebook is to be considered a viable platform for social research, it is necessary to demonstrate that Facebook users are sufficiently heterogeneous and that research conducted through Facebook is likely to produce results that can be generalized to a larger population. The present study examines these questions by comparing demographic and personality data collected over Facebook with data collected through a standalone website, and data collected from college undergraduates at two universities. Results indicate that statistically significant differences exist between Facebook data and the comparison data-sets, but since 80% of analyses exhibited partial η2 < .05, such differences are small or practically nonsignificant in magnitude. We conclude that Facebook is a viable research platform, and that recruiting Facebook users for research purposes is a promising avenue that offers numerous advantages over traditional samples.