Saturday, December 15, 2012

Social Networks

Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control

Keith Wilcox & Andrew Stephen
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Online social networks are used by hundreds of millions of people every day, but little is known about their effect on behavior. In five experiments, the authors demonstrate that social network use enhances self-esteem in users who are focused on close friends (i.e., strong ties) while browsing their social network. This momentary increase in self-esteem reduces self-control, leading those focused on strong ties to display less self-control after browsing a social network. Additionally, the authors present evidence suggesting that greater social network use is associated with a higher body mass index and higher levels of credit card debt for individuals with strong ties to their social network. This research extends previous findings by demonstrating that social networks primarily enhance self-esteem for those focused on strong ties during social network use. Additionally, this research has implications for policy makers because self-control is an important mechanism for maintaining social order and well-being.


Optimal Social-Networking Strategy Is a Function of Socioeconomic Conditions

Shigehiro Oishi & Selin Kesebir
Psychological Science, forthcoming

In the two studies reported here, we examined the relation among residential mobility, economic conditions, and optimal social-networking strategy. In Study 1, a computer simulation showed that regardless of economic conditions, having a broad social network with weak friendship ties is advantageous when friends are likely to move away. By contrast, having a small social network with deep friendship ties is advantageous when the economy is unstable but friends are not likely to move away. In Study 2, we examined the validity of the computer simulation using a sample of American adults. Results were consistent with the simulation: American adults living in a zip code where people are residentially stable but economically challenged were happier if they had a narrow but deep social network, whereas in other socioeconomic conditions, people were generally happier if they had a broad but shallow networking strategy. Together, our studies demonstrate that the optimal social-networking strategy varies as a function of socioeconomic conditions.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

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