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Theoretical Approaches to Studying Online Behavior on Social Networking Sites.

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Presentation on theme: "Theoretical Approaches to Studying Online Behavior on Social Networking Sites."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theoretical Approaches to Studying Online Behavior on Social Networking Sites

2 Early Responses to Online Communication Social Presence Theory Media Richness Theory Lack of Social Context Cues All saw cyberspace as a relational wasteland

3 Theories About Behavioral Motivations According to uses and gratifications theory, which has emerged out of the psychological communication perspective, individuals use media to fulfill their needs and wants (Rubin, 2002). Researchers have divided media gratifications into two types : Process and Content

4 Uses and Gratifications Process gratifications arise from the performance of an activity such as random web browsing or creating content on one’s profile Content gratification occurs from acquiring information (Kayahara& Wellman, 2007) Can one use the uses and gratifications approach to analyze young adults use of Facebook ?

5 According to Ray (2007), social networking sites simultaneously fulfill several needs in one location. These include: Need for interpersonal communication Information Entertainment and Diversion

6 Themes of Why People Use Facebook To Meet Needs Efficient and convenient communication Fulfill curiosity about others Popularity Relationship formation and reinforcement Passing time

7 Theories about Who Benefits from Online Relationships Social Compensation Theory or Poor Get Richer Hypothesis Social Enhancement Theory or Rich-Get- Richer Hypothesis

8 Theories about the nature of online relationships Social Information Processing Theory (SIPT) focuses on how people develop and maintain relationships in computer-mediated environments. According to this theory developed by Joseph Walther in 1992, people can develop similar to or even better than face to face interactions.

9 Social Information Processing Perspective Interpersonal information Impression management Relationship development

10 Social Information Perspective Argues that while there is a lack of social context or nonverbal cues that signal relational affinity, these are replaced by other cues. Possible cues in the context of social network sites like Facebook ?

11 Core principal of SIP perspective is that people employ similar strategies in communication, whether online or offline and that the mode of communication made no difference to the emotional tone. Crucial variable is time and the rate at which social information mounts up. Other factors are anticipated future interaction and chronemics

12 Social Information Processing Walther also argues that online relationships are often “hyperpersonal,” or more intimate than those developed when partners or friends are physically in the same space. Identifies four factors that contribute to this: Selective self-presentation, over-attribution of similarity, asynchronous communication and feedback.

13 Theories of Online Behavior and Society Most existing research has focused on identity and privacy Recent studies have begin to examine online behavior in relation to issues of social capital What is social capital ?Concept comes from French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu

14 Impact on Society He defined it as “the sum of resources, actual or virtual, that accrue to an individual or group by virtue of possessing a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition.” ( Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992).

15 Impact on Society Why is social capital important ? For individuals: Allow people to draw on resources from others in their networks. Resources can take the form of: Useful information Personal relationships and general psychological well-being Capacity to organize in groups

16 Impact on Society For society: Enhanced participation in civic and political life Ability to mobilize for collective purposes Greater trust and connection between people

17 Impact on Society Some researchers see the Internet as decreasing social capital due to the decline in face-to-face communication. Others see online interactions as replacing in-person communication

18 What is the potential impact of Facebook on social capital ?

19 Facebook and Social Capital Researchers identify two types of social capital: Bridging capital and bonding capital. Bridging refers to loose connections between individuals who provide information or new perspectives but not emotional support.

20 Facebook and Social Capital Bonding capital refers to the connections between individuals in close-knit, emotionally close relationships such as family and friends. What types of connections does Facebook facilitate ? What implications does it have for the creation of different types of social capital ? Do online connections translate into long- term offline connections ?

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