to engage in self-presentation through proﬁle construc-tion, status updates, photo album management, message-posting, and so on.
In doing these self-presentation activi-ties, some users may be more inclined to present themselvesin a selective manner, highlighting the ‘‘favorable and ap-propriate images’’ of themselves;
by contrast, othersmay prefer to present themselves in a true-to-self manner,engaging in deeper levels of self-disclosure. We examinedhow these self-presentation strategies affect perceived socialsupport and SWB.
Number of Facebook friends, subjective well-being,and social support
Deﬁned as ‘‘a subset of peers who engage in mutualcompanionship, support, and intimacy,’’
friends are animportant source of emotional and practical support
andare thereby considered a key element of happiness.
In theworld of Facebook, however, it does not take much effort to become ‘‘friends’’ with other Facebook users; once formed,the ‘‘friendship’’ does not require strong attachment or closeconnections.
Nonetheless, the number of Facebook friendsmay have positive effects on SWB. With Facebook visualizingand displaying the ‘‘friends’’ connections, a large number of Facebook friends could remind users of their social connec-tions and boost their self-esteem,
which could, in turn, en-hance their SWB levels. Thus:
H1: There will be a positive association between the numberof Facebook friends and SWB.
An open question is whether the hypothesized positiveassociation between the number of Facebook friends andSWB is mediated by perceived social support. Consideringthat social support is an important source of happiness,
it ispossible that social support provided by one’s Facebookfriends may also have a positive contribution to the user’sSWB. However, it is unclear whether increases in the numberof Facebook friends will lead to increases in Facebook-basedsocial support. One possibility is that the more Facebookfriends one has, the more social support one is likely to re-ceive from these friends on aggregate, which will in turnmake the user happier. However, it is also possible that Fa-cebook friends, not as much being based on close attachmentand mutual connections as actual friends are, may not serveas a substantial source of support; in this case, perceived so-cial support will not be a signiﬁcant mediator between thenumber of Facebook friends and SWB. To test these twopossibilities, we ask:
RQ1: Does perceived social support mediate the relationshipbetween the number of Facebook friends and SWB?
Another possibility is that a non-linear relationship mayexist between the number of Facebook friends and socialsupport. With too few Facebook friends, users will receivesocial support to a very limited extent. Having too many Fa-cebookfriends,onthe other hand, willnot necessarilyincreasesocial support one can receive, for most of the ‘‘friendships’’may be superﬁcial at best. It takes much time and effort to build and maintain mutual companionship with friends. Gi-ven that the average number of close ofﬂine friends is onlynine,
it is not surprising that Facebook users maintain closeconnections with less than 3% of their Facebook friends.
It islikely that thelarger one’s Facebooknetworkbecomes,thelesstime and effort can be invested in each individual.It is also possible that a user with a large number of Fa-cebook friends might have mindlessly expanded his/herfriends’ network without making any serious effort towardmaking the relationships grow. Particularly in the case of Facebook users with an extremely large number of Facebookfriends, many of these ‘‘friends’’ may be no more than a largegroupof passivespectators forthecontent displayedon one’sFacebook proﬁle page.
Research on the effects of Facebookfriends on social judgment also provides a ground for ourhypothesis. Tong et al.
found that Facebook users with toofew friends or too many friends are perceived more nega-tively than are those with ‘‘optimally large number of friends.’’
Such negative perception may drive potentialsupporters away from the extreme ‘‘friends-rich’’ and‘‘friends-poor.’’ Therefore, the number of Facebook friendsmay have a positive association with social support only upto a certain point and possibly a negative association beyondthat.
H2: Number of Facebook friends will have a negative curvi-linear relationship (i.e., inverted U-shape curve) with per-ceived social support.
Positive versus honest self-presentation, perceived social support, and subjective well-being
As an SNS, Facebook enables users to communicate withother users through their proﬁles, private messaging, andcommenting.
These modes of communication, which areasynchronous and editable, allow people to engage in self-presentation in a selective manner.
At the same time, because Facebook is inherently bound to users’ ofﬂine rela-tionships,
self-presentation on Facebook tends to be moreconstrained than that in anonymous online environmentswhere there are almost no restrictions on how one presentshim/herself to others.
Given the technological affordances and social constraintsco-present in Facebook, self-presentation may take differentforms depending on what aspects of the self are selected andhighlighted. The literature on impression management inCMC(e.g.,TidwellandWalther
pointstotwotypesof self-presentation strategies relevant to Facebook: positiveversus honest self-presentation. On one hand, the highvisibility of one’s behavior that can easily be identiﬁed byothers may lead a Facebook user to engage in positive self-presentation,
selectively revealing, ‘‘highly socially desir-able’’ images of his/herself.
On the other hand, asresearch on self-presentation in online dating settings hasdemonstrated, users anticipating long-term relationshipswith their Facebook friends may choose to present them-selves honestly without selectively putting their best faceforward.
How, then, will these two self-presentationstrategies affect Facebook users’ SWB? We hypothesize thatwhile both positive and honest self-presentation may have beneﬁcial effects on Facebook users’ SWB, the mechanisms behind these effects will differ.Some scholars note that positive self-presentation in face-to-face interactions can bring affective beneﬁts and put
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