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Ines Birnschein

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WhatsApp Groups

The messaging service WhatsApp has become a well established tool for the interpersonal  communication in groups (e.g., groups of friends, families, learning groups, therapy groups, working groups). The goal of the qualification thesis is to examine users of and usage patterns in WhatsApp groups. To this end, the current state of research will be reviewed. On this base, an interview study or a survey will be conducted. In terms of communication science, the thesis will be based in the realm of reception research and Uses and Gratifications. A special focus will be on problems: Experiencing stress due to too many messages, dissemination of rumors, exclusion from groups etc.

Note that reception research is usually based on quantitative and/or qualitative survey methods (questionnaire, interview). Normally it is not possible for students to examine sufficiently large and meaningful samples, as recruitment is extremely difficult and is also becoming increasingly difficult (so-called survey fatigue of the population). Therefore, we do not normally recommend survey studies and only supervise them if students can prove in advance how they can recruit a reasonably composed sample of sufficient size (usually > 500 for sufficient test power in quantitative research). The vague note that the invitation for the survey will be distributed via Facebook is not enough. The university's e-mail lists also do not provide a sufficient response rate. A study with an inadequate sample should not be carried out right from the start, as it is pseudo-science!

Normally, we recommend quantitative media content studies in the form of replication studies. See the other offers for thesis topics.



Chou, M.-C., & Liu, C.-H. (2016). Mobile Instant Messengers and Middle-Aged and Elderly Adults in Taiwan: Uses and Gratifications. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 32(11), 835–846.

Flanagin, A. J. (2005). IM Online: Instant Messaging Use Among College Students. Communication Research Reports, 22(3), 175–187.

Quan-Haase, A., & Young, A. L. (2010). Uses and Gratifications of Social Media: A Comparison of Facebook and Instant Messaging. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 30(5), 350–361.

Riva, G. (2002). The sociocognitive psychology of computer-mediated communication: The present and future of technology-based interactions. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 5(6), 581–598.


Prof. Dr. Döring