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Burke, M., Marlowe, C., Lento, T. (2010). Social Network Activity and Social Well-Being. Carnegie Mellon Human-Computer Interaction Institute

Previous research has shown a relationship between use of social networking sites and feelings of social capital. However, most studies have relied on self-reports by college students. The goals of the current study are to (1) validate the common self-report scale using empirical data from Facebook, (2) test whether previous findings generalize to older and international populations, and (3) delve into the specific activities linked to feelings of social capital and loneliness. In particular, we investigate the role of directed interaction between pairs—such as wall posts, comments, and “likes”— and consumption of friends’ content, including status updates, photos, and friends’ conversations with other friends. We find that directed communication is associated with greater feelings of bonding social capital and lower loneliness, but has only a modest relationship with bridging social capital, which is primarily related to overall friend network size. Surprisingly, users who consume greater levels of content report reduced bridging and bonding social capital and increased loneliness. Implications for designs to support well-being are discussed


Burke, Moira

I'm a Ph.D. candidate in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. With my advisor, Bob Kraut, I perform research that bridges computer science and social psychology, particularly large-scale computational analysis of social patterns in online communities....

Marlow, Cameron

I am a research scientist and "in-house sociologist" at Facebook. My research focuses on various aspects of online communities including the diffusion of information across online social networks, access to information and social capital, and the incentives that impact social media...

Lento, Thomas

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