Who, When, and Why We Disclose Distress on SNSs: Network Closeness, Perceived Affordances, Depressive Symptoms, and Disclosure Goals
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPeople often feel the need to disclose their experiences and feelings after experiencing negative events and emotions. Social networking sites (SNSs) offer unprecedented opportunities for broadcasting self-disclosure. However, questions regarding under what conditions, motivated by what goals, and which groups of people tend to post distressing information on SNSs have received insufficient scholarly attention. Rooted in the functional approach of self-disclosure, the current study investigated how network closeness, perceived SNS affordances (i.e., network accessibility, visibility, and visibility control), and depressive symptoms are related to broadcasting distress disclosure tendencies on SNSs via disclosure goals (i.e., support-seeking and emotion expression goals). Working with 398 college students, this study found that network closeness and depressive symptoms were indirectly associated with distress disclosure tendencies on SNSs via support-seeking and emotion expression goals. Also, anticipated negative evaluations as subjective risks moderated the associations between disclosure goals and distress disclosure tendencies on SNSs. The results further reveal that, although network accessibility can be a catalyst for emotional disclosures, the intimacy of one’s network may play a more important role in terms of enhancing support-seeking and emotional expressions on SNSs. Another implication of this study is that the potential effects of perceived visibility may depend on perceived visibility control and self-presentational concerns. Together, this study extends the functional model of self-disclosure on SNSs and offers a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of distress disclosures on SNSs.
Degree ProgramGraduate College