Bitcoin and blockchain technology: Investigating individual adoption and social media opinion leaders

Project background and research questions

The year 2008 marked the birth of Bitcoin, the first and most well-known application of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Spurred by financial rallies and broad media coverage until now, Bitcoin has caught public attention in its ongoing attempt to decentralize and democratize financial markets.

In two current research projects, we focus on three distinct research questions in the context of Bitcoin and blockchain technology:

  1. Individual adoption:

How do individuals’ values affect their adoption of Bitcoin and blockchain technology?

  1. Social media opinion leadership:

How can we classify social media Bitcoin opinion leaders (i.e., BOLs), and how do different types of BOLs differ in “how” and “what” they communicate with the public?

  1. Signaling theory:

How do signalers (i.e., BOLs) influence audience feedback using multiple signaling strategies (amplitude, frequency, omnidirectionality), and, in turn, how do signalers adjust their signaling strategies and resignal in response to audience feedback over time?



In project 1, we use data from a multiple administration survey of 236 users and nonusers of Bitcoin to hypothesize and test how individuals’ personal values (i.e., libertarian political values) influence their attitudes toward Bitcoin affordances and their Bitcoin use behavior. In parallel with the study of the specific case of Bitcoin, we also analyze 3,488 use intention decisions regarding public blockchain technology made by 218 decision makers who are actively involved in the European blockchain community, using a metric conjoint experiment. In project 2, we collect 115 million tweets directly related to Bitcoin from 2009 to 2022. Based on the tweets, we identify and classify 218 Bitcoin opinion leaders (for a visual summary of the key findings, see our infographic in English and German). We analyze their tweets using text-mining techniques and regression analyses to predict the effectiveness of their signaling strategies and how they respond to feedback with adjustments in their re-signaling.


Project publications and presentations

Lichti, C., Tumasjan, A., & Connelly, B. (2024). Getting more “likes”: Toward a theory of signaling feedback. Presented at the 44th Strategic Management Society (SMS) Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, October 19-22, 2024.

Lichti, C., Ademi, E., & Tumasjan, A. (2024). Decentralized opinion leadership: A study of crypto influencers in the Twitter discourse on Bitcoin. Proceedings of the 57th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS). DOI:

Lichti, C. W., & Tumasjan, A. (2023). “My precious!”: A values-affordances perspective on the adoption of Bitcoin. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 24(3), 629-663. DOI:

Lichti, C. (2020). If I ruled the world: The role of personal values in blockchain adoption decisions. Presented at the UCL CBT 2020 Open Seminars. Available at


Media appearances

Der Spiegel. Wie Bitcoin-Propheten die Massen um sich scharen. (February 19, 2024)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Wer bestimmt die Bitcoin-Debatte? (November 21, 2023)


Project team

Constantin Lichti, M.Sc.

Endrit Ademi, M.Sc. 

Professor Brian Connelly

Prof. Dr. Andranik Tumasjan