This study distinguishes perceptions of, preferences for, and outcomes related to people’s social ties online. It expands understanding of when and why using social network sites (SNSs) provides people with several types of supportive communication by integrating users’ social capital and preference for weak tie support. Prior research is synthesized and extended to build a heuristic model of social ties and supportive communication in SNSs that considers network-based variables (i.e., social capital, preference for weak ties) as mechanisms that link the use of SNSs to the supportive messages people receive. A community sample (N = 553) completed an online questionnaire. Results indicated that intensity of Facebook use corresponds with both social capital and received support. Moreover, social capital mediates and preference for weak ties moderates the relationship between using Facebook and receiving support, and results differ according to the types of social capital and support under consideration. Facebook use, for example, only corresponds with receiving informational and esteem support when users exhibit sufficient preferences for weak tie support.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science