Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Whitney DeCamp

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Gregory Howard

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

This study examines the associations between usage intensity, user motivations, and contextual self-disclosure, and social capital on two popular online mediums, Facebook and World of Warcraft. Contributing to the efforts of previous research, which has found both online gaming communities and social networking sites to positively affect access to informational and social support, this analysis shows that intimate self-disclosure in each online medium differs not only in context, but in its impact on dimensions of social capital, and that the various effects of self-disclosure on social capital can be attributed to differences in communicative affordances and community held standards of shared-information. Although several previous studies have examined the relationship between online self-disclosure and dimensions of social capital, there has been no research that attempts to compare this association between users of social networking sites and online gamers. Several hypotheses corresponding to the relationships between user motivation, usage intensity, online self-disclosure and social capital were tested using data collected from both undergraduate students at a large Midwestern university and players of World of Warcraft using a web-based survey. A series of regression analyses were used to predict dimensions of social capital for users of both online mediums. The findings were interpreted using the theoretical concept of social capital and the social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE).

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