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Title: 'Pro' social media : using key social psychological theories to increase prosocial engagement on social media sites
Author: Fatkin, Jane-Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5917 5163
Awarding Body: Heriot-Watt University
Current Institution: Heriot-Watt University
Date of Award: 2015
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Prosocial Behaviour has a strong history rooted in Social Psychology. However, it has yet to be researched in the realm of social media. This line of research aims to better understand Prosocial Behaviour in social media environments and learn how to increase positive engagement online through the theoretical framework of Walther’s (1996) hyperpersonal model of computer-mediated communication. Four studies were conducted to obtain this goal. The first two studies explore what factors affect prosocial behaviour on social media sites. In particular, study one examines how gender, appearance, and number of social media friends affect whether or not individuals will give aid to their friends. The outcome suggested that the less social media friends a person had, the less likely the individual would help. Study two delves into whether the bystander effect and personalisation affect Prosocial Behaviour on social media sites. The bystander effect did not affect helping but personalising a message made it more than two times more likely that an individual would receive help. The third study looks at some barriers that prevent prosocial behaviour on social media sites. Three main barriers resulted including ‘Information Overload,’ ‘Can’t Live with It, Can’t Live without It,’ and ‘Privacy and Permanence of Information.’ The final study examines Prosocial Behaviour in a social media context through the means of two events where social media played an important role in helping behaviour. These events exemplified that social media is a powerful tool and can be used to effectively promote Prosocial Behaviour and also provided support for Walther’s hyperpersonal model. As the first to delve into helping behaviour on social media sites, this thesis advances the current body of knowledge on Prosocial Behaviour. In addition, the four studies provide vital knowledge on how to increase prosocial behaviour online using Walther’s (1996) hyperpersonal model on CMC. With the current Social Media Revolution and time spent online, it is vital to make social media engagement more positive and user friendly. The three main ways to increase positive online engagement gleaned from this thesis are 1) Make things personal, 2) Create a social media group with a hierarchical structure, and 3) Edit privacy settings and friend/follower settings on personal social media pages to fit one’s individual needs.
Supervisor: Lansdown, Terry Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available