Effects of Providing Support via Social Media Platforms

Over the coming 2018-19 year, Dr. Gosnell and I will be focusing on a new project titled “Effects of Providing Support via Social Media Platforms.”   The purpose of our study is to potentially add to the relatively limited work on social support provision performed thus far. We intend to explore the impacts of providing support on social media platforms, specifically Facebook. As social media is becoming one of the primary methods of both general communication and event sharing, it is only more critical that we examine the support processes that exist exclusively on social media. This project contributes to several important new areas of research, including work exploring differences in positive and negative event support, work highlighting the effects of social support on the providers of support, as well as work exploring the way in which social support is playing out via social media. This study presents a critical lens as it will be amongst the first to evaluate the provision of support via Facebook and furthermore to examine the additional factors of provision on well-being.

It is our intent to have an “in-lab” component of the study in which the participant will be invited to participate in either a simulated hypothetical or else an authentic scenario. Here, the participant may provide support “in the moment”, but also grant us the opportunity to assess the degree to which people retain and remember their own shared support over time. This study will enable us to assess the participants memory for shared support of both positive and negative events on Facebook. Additionally, this study will examine the effects of support provision on general well-being. It is our prediction that individuals who put forth the most enthusiastic support (such as a positive comment following a positive social media posting rather than a “like”) will benefit the most. This study will allow us to ultimately explore the more detailed aspects of supportive messages (word count, word choice) to better understand how communication of support via social media platforms influences the support provider.