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Author Topic: Follow up: My research survey on bitcoin  (Read 884 times)
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February 25, 2014, 06:27:46 AM
Last edit: February 25, 2014, 06:56:57 AM by clustig

Hi everyone,

My name is Caitlin Lustig (contact:  I’m a PhD student in the Informatics department at the University of California, Irvine and I am studying the Bitcoin community.  Some months ago, I put out a survey here ( and /r/bitcoin (  I had intended to give some preliminary results shortly after my survey was completed, but analyzing the results took much longer than expected.   However, I am happy to say that I finally have some results that I can share with you.

First, though, a few notes:

I will be gathering more data in the form of interviews and will be doing more analysis over the next few months.  I’ll be sure to share any papers that I publish with the community!  Also, a big thank you again to everyone who participated in my survey.

Some people have asked me whether I will share my data with them.  Unfortunately, I cannot and will not share the full dataset.  It is really important to me to keep the participants as anonymous as possible.

Lastly, I know that I could really only reach people who know English with this survey, so I recognize that these results cannot necessarily be generalized to the entire Bitcoin community.


Number of people who took the survey: 510

Observations based on open-ended questions:

    1. Many of the participants were very against the use of Bitcoin for illegal purposes.  I did not ask about illegal activity in my survey, but many people volunteered their opinion on the matter and stated that they felt dismayed that the community has been associated with illegal activities by media outlets.  They felt that many people outside of the community misunderstand why someone would be motivated to use Bitcoin and tried to clear up this misinformation when speaking to non-Bitcoin users.

    2. As for participant’s motivation, many stated that they liked Bitcoin because it is not tied to any government and it offers some degree of anonymity.  Some also stated that they did not trust credit card companies, payment intermediaries like PayPal, or banks, and Bitcoin offered an alternative to all of these institutions.  Another thing that came through in the survey was the participants’ excitement in being a part of something that they found cool, novel, and fun.  Fun was not necessarily a word that I expected to see in the results (or one that I see associated with Bitcoin often in news articles) and I’m interested to learn more about what makes Bitcoin fun for people!

    3. When asked about the future of Bitcoin, many participants had very high hopes that Bitcoin would revolutionize monetary systems across the world.  However, some participants expressed concern about government regulations in the future and some perceived weakness in the design of Bitcoin (i.e. lack of absolute anonymity and centralization through large mining pools).  They expressed the belief that a different crypto-currency would solve these issues in the future.  These participants seemed to indicate that they weren’t committed to Bitcoin, per se, but to the promise and value of crypto-currencies in general.


Most of the participants were between 25 and 34 years old, heterosexual, atheist or agnostic, American, and male.  The political beliefs were varied and many participants chose multiple political labels for themselves.  For those that selected at least one political label for themselves, nearly 60% selected libertarian.  However, the open-ended question about political beliefs revealed that many participants had differing opinions about what these labels meant and many rejected labels or felt uncomfortable identifying with any particular label.  I think, as a result, it might be unfair to characterize the participants as primarily libertarian, as the open-ended question revealed that the political views of the participants much more varied and nuanced than a label could describe.

  • Male (96.29%)
  • Female (2.09%)
  • Other (1.86%)

Sexual orientation:
  • Heterosexual (92.42%)
  • Other (4.27%)
  • Bisexual (3.55%)
  • Homosexual (2.13%)

Religion: (participants were allowed to pick multiple options)
  • Atheist (47.75%)
  • Agnostic (33.81%)
  • Christian (17.97%)
  • Other (11.11%)
  • Buddhist (6.86%)
  • Jewish (2.13%)
  • Muslim (1.42%)
  • Hindu (0.95%)

Country of residence:
  • US (50.72%)
  • Germany (6.92%)
  • UK (6.49%)
  • Canada (5.77%)
  • Australia (4.09%)
  • Netherlands (2.16%)
  • Sweden (1.20%)
  • Finland (1.20%)
  • Norway (1.20%)

There are 39 other countries that represented the current residence of less than 1% of the survey participants:

Switzerland, France, Singapore, Russian Federation, Poland, Belgium, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, India, Ireland, Austria, Slovenia, Greece, Philippines, Argentina, Romania, Denmark, Croatia, China, Serbia, Israel, Brazil, Portugal, Japan, South Korea, Belarus, Malaysia, Slovakia, Mexico, South Africa, Moldova, Hungary, Lithuania, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, and Benin.

Most popular state for US participants: California (25.13%)

Self-reported income:
  • 44.71% higher than national average of participant’s country
  • 27.40% around the national average of participant’s country
  • 27.88% less than national average of participant’s country

  • Less than a high school degree (2.11%)
  • High school degree or equivalent (7.28%)
  • Some college but no degree (23.24%)
  • Associate degree (4.69%)
  • Bachelor degree (35.92%)
  • Graduate degree (26.76%)

  • 18 to 24 (18.82%)
  • 25 to 34 (50.12%)
  • 35 to 44 (21.41%)
  • 45 to 54 (6.82%)
  • 55 to 64 (2.35%)
  • 65 to 74 (0.24%)
  • 75 or older (0.24%)

Political beliefs: (participants were allowed to pick multiple options)
  • Libertarian (59.25%)
  • Moderate (36.25%)
  • Anarchist (27%)
  • Left-wing (25.25%)
  • Green (18%)
  • Socialist (11%)
  • Right-wing (8.25%)
  • Communist (2.50%)
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