UCL School of Management

20 May 2022

How digital consumers manage their online visibility in game-like conditions

Organisations continue to create digital interfaces and infrastructures that are designed to heighten consumers’ online visibility and encourage them to part with their data. The way these digital systems operate and the rules they are governed by are often opaque, leaving consumers to deploy their own strategies for managing their online information-sharing with organisations.

Research by Dr Rikke Duus, Dr Mike Cooray and Professor Simon Lilley published in the Frontiers in Psychology, explores issues of online visibility management through a theoretical lens of ‘game-playing’. The study contributes to the growing body of research that explores how consumers orchestrate their online visibility and manage their data traces by deploying particular tactics that give them a heightened sense of control and agency in their interactions with organisations.

Rikke and her co-authors draw on Erving Goffman’s metaphor of expression games to explore how consumers, who have been well socialised as digital natives, engage in dynamic and game-like interactions with organisations in an attempt to manage their level of online visibility and information sharing in relation, inter alia, to the ‘convenience’ and ‘benefits’ that are afforded to them.

The study contributes a new framework, ‘Propensity to Game’ (P2G), which presents the processual dynamics that characterise these consumers’ evolving and game-like engagements with organisations. These are Game AwarenessRule FamiliarisationPlayer Commitment and Game Play.

The research surfaces the nuanced and multifaceted decision-making and thought processes that these consumers engage in when they, situation-by-situation, decide on the tactics and methods to use in their efforts to manage the data and information they share with organisations. 

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Last updated Monday, 23 May 2022