Perceived Benefits On Social Networking Sites

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The advent of internet has seen rapid growth of social networking sites in the past couple of decades. Some of such sites popular in India include Orkut, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc. Many studies have been done to analyse the usage pattern of these sites and the factors which lead to people using these sites rather than the conventional ways of interaction and communication.

Researchers have also been exploring the relationship between individual's personality characteristics and his/her online social networking behaviour. Recently the use of social networking sites has also gathered attention of many advertisers and they might also like to know the usage pattern and the factors which influence such pattern. Hence a study which finds relationship between personality traits and the perceived usage of the social networking sites and which keeps the moderating factors in the scope of the study is very essential from the advertisers' perspective besides being imperative from a psychologists' point of view. In our study, we would study these relationships and analyse the same with the help of the various tools we have learnt in our course on Business Research methods.




Sample Respondents

Method of Data Collection

Products &Services Studied

Method of Analysis

Stefan Wehrli

Personality on Social Network Sites:

An Application of the Five Factor Model


1560 from a major Swiss technical university

Online Survey, corresponding online profiles and friendship networks on a popular Social Network Site (SNS).

Personality traits studied using short question inventory of the five factor personality model. Online profile data through Social Networking Sites(SNS)

Statistical analysis

with overdispersed degree distribution models

Y.A. Hamburger and E. Ben-Artzi

The relationship between extraversion and neuroticism and the different uses of the Internet

72 respondents comprising 45 males and 27 females


Respondents rated the frequency with which they use each of 12 main internet services.

Exploratory Factor Analysis

Nicole Ellison, Charles Steinfield, Cliff Lampe

Spatially Bounded Online Social Networks and Social Capital:

The Role of Facebook


800 Michigan State University undergraduate students

Online Survey hosted on a website Zoomerang.

demographic and other descriptive variables such as gender, age, year in school;

Facebook usage measures, Psychological measures, Social capital measures

Regression analysis

Harsha Gangadharbatla

Facebook Me: Collective Self-Esteem, Need to Belong, and Internet

Self-Efficacy as Predictors of the I Generation's Attitudes toward Social

Networking Sites (2007)

Two hundred thirty-seven undergraduate students, recruited from a large Southwestern university

Paper and pencil version of a 65-item questionnaire


attitude toward SNS, (2) willingness to join SNS, (3) Internet self-efficacy, (4) need for cognition, (5) need to belong, (6) self-esteem, and (7) collective self-esteem.

Demographic questions and usage of Social Networking Sites

Multiple regression analyses

Shailja Agarwal

Monika Mital

An exploratory study of Indian university

Students' use of social networking web sites:

Implications for the workplace

First pilot study with 29 respondents. Then survey admisitered to 427 business school students at an Indian university

15-item survey

Widening perspective, Sharing opinions and personal socialization

Factor analysis for categorizing purposes for using Social Networking Sites

Kartikeya P Bolar

Motives Behind the Use

of Social Networking Sites:

An Empirical Study

Initial investigation to a known group of users, final questionnaire to 152 respondents

Initial investigation: e-mail

Final Questionnaire: E-mail and direct contact

Motivating Factors, frequency of Use and Influence of Social Networking Sites

Principal Components Analysis (PCA) with varimax rotation of factor analysis

Beatrice Rammstedt, Oliver P. John

Measuring personality in one minute or less: A 10-item short version of the Big Five Inventory in English and German

The first US sample (US-1) consisted of 726 students (68% females; mean age=21 years) at a large public university, whereas the second (US-2) consisted of 726 students at a private university (56% females; mean age=18)

All samples provided self-reports on the full BFI, scored on BFI-10 and full BFI-44 scales.

Personality traits

Common factor analysis, Structural validity, Convergent Validation, External Validation

Patti M. Valkenburg, Jochen Peter, Alexander P. Schouten

Friend Networking Sites and their Relationship to Adolescents'

Well-being and Social Self-Esteem


among 881 adolescents (10- to 19-year-olds) who had an online profile on a Dutch friend

networking site

Pop-up screen with an invitation to participate in an online survey.

Use of friend networking site, Frequency of reactions to profile, Tone of reactions to profiles, Relationships established, Social self-esteem, Well-being

Structural Equation Modeling

software AMOS 5.0


The literature review done by us has helped us to formulate our hypothesis and we now know what we should expect the outcome of our study to be.

According to the article titled "Personality on Social Network Sites: An Application of the Five Factor Model" by Stefan Wehrli, we should expect the following relation between the various personality traits of an individual and his perceived social networking sites usage.

Hypothesis for personality Effects on Social Networking Site Usage

Personality Trait

Effect on Social Networking Site Usage











The above table shows an overview of the hypotheses and the direction of the expected effects. Our hypothesis of interest would be based on these.

According to the article titled "The relationship between extraversion and neuroticism and the different uses of the Internet" by Y. A. Hamburger and E. Ben-Artzi, our hypothesis is strengthened as it states that for men, extraversion is positively related to the use of leisure services. One contradictory statement which the article makes is that for woman, neuroticism positively relates to the use of social services which we would like to test with our hypothesis as we believe it may be a wrong assumption to make at the outset.

The paper "Spatially Bounded Online Social Networks and Social Capital: The Role of Facebook" by Nicole Ellison, Charles Steinfield, Cliff Lampe from the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media Michigan State University tries to predict the effect of use of social networking sites on an individual's social capital. Social capital broadly refers to the resources accumulated through the relationships among people (Coleman, 1988). It can be interpreted as the resources which a person has by virtue of his relationship, friendship and acquaintance with others. It might include knowledge, information, personal relationships etc. From the research the authors conclude that intensity of Facebook use is positively related to the maintenance and creation of social capital by individuals. (Pg 26)Hence we concluded that bonding/bridging/maintaining social capital could be the perceived benefits of social networking sites which excite users to become active on these sites. The study also used self esteem and life satisfaction as the moderating variables and found that people low on these 2 parameters perceived greater building of their social capital with increased usage of these sites. This gave the background that the psychological well-being of a person, his interpersonal orientation and personality can also affect his usage of social networking sites. (pg 23) The study however found no significant variation in the association between usage of Facebook and the perceived benefits of social capital with gender variations.

There are various papers which have tried to establish the reasons why people join social networking sites i.e. what are their perceived social networking benefits. The paper by Harsha Gangadharbatla Assistant Professor Department of Advertising College of Mass Communications investigates the effect of several factors like level of Internet self-efficacy, need to belong, need for cognition, and collective self-esteem on an individual's attitude toward SNS which in turn mediates the relation between these variables and the willingness to join Social Networking Sites. A brief definition of the various factors is given below

Internet Self-Efficacy: The ease with which a person expects he can perform operations online

Need for cognition: The extent to which people engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activities.

Need to Belong: A person's desire to be accepted as a part of his peer group or society and loved and respected.

Collective Self-Esteem: How important a member values his membership in a group.

According to the study, Internet self-efficacy, need to belong, and collective self-esteem have positive influences on attitudes toward SNS and attitudes fully mediate the relationship between willingness to join SNS and Internet self-efficacy and need to belong and partially mediate the relationship between willingness to join and collective self esteem. Thus need to belong can be considered as an important benefit perceived by the individuals when joining social networking sites. Internet self-efficacy can be considered as a moderating variable whereas through brainstorming and informal discussions with our colleagues, we can decide whether to consider collective self-esteem as one of the factors for forming the perceived social networking sites scale. Internet self-efficacy is not being considered as a moderating variable because we will be administering the questionnaire by mail and expect our respondents to score high on this parameter.

Another paper by Shailja Agarwal and Monika Mital from the Jaipuria Institute of Management also tries to identify the reasons why individuals use SNWs. The 3 factors identified by the study were: Widening Perspective (related to increase in a person's knowledge, information and awareness of current events and job prospects), Sharing of Opinions (related to maintaining contacts with friends, relatives and like-minded people) and Personal Socialization (related to flirting and making contacts with new friends). The study concluded that all of these factors are important reasons for individuals joining SNWs, and as compared to previous years, the Factor 1 has gained significant important. This prompted us to consider these 3 factors in our development of the Perceived Social Networking Benefit Scale. Also the study found that that there was a significant difference in the extent of sharing of opinions among males and females, probably due to women being cautious in India due to the social and safety factors. This made us consider gender as a moderating variable while considering the association between perceived social networking benefits and the usage patterns of Social Networking sites.

The research done by Kartikeya P Bolar has identified seven motives behind the use of social networking sites: self-reflection and image-building, utility, information-gathering and problem solving, networking, simply-spending time, revisiting-memories, and peer influence.

Self-Reflection and Image Building: to build an impressive profile and image

Utility: Connecting with friends, using the features of SNWs for entertainment purposes

Information-gathering and Problem Solving: Getting news and helpful information

Networking: Forming online communities and getting in touch with like-minded people

Spending Leisure Time: Passing time on these sites

Revisiting memories: Searching for old friends with whom one has lost touch

Peer Influence: Person starts using the social networking sites as a result of peer pressure and the herd mentality.

The paper finds the predictors of frequency of usage of social networking sites in the decreasing order are utility, networking, spending leisure time and revisiting memories while information use and problem solving do not appear to be significant in explaining the frequency of use. Hence these factors would be considered while developing the Perceived Social Networking Benefits Scale.

Some factors yielded by the above 3 studies are similar and hence can be grouped together e.g. Personal Socialization factor of the study by Shailja Agarwal and Monika Mital is quite similar to the Utility Factor of the research by Bolar. A discussion regarding the importance of all these factors will be taken up with our colleagues as well as within our groups which would be instrumental in our scale formation.

The paper "Measuring personality in one minute or less: A 10-item short version of the Big Five Inventory in English and German" by Beatrice Rammstedt and Oliver P. John abbreviates the Big 5 Inventory test to a 10-item version. The BFI-10, as it is called, was developed simultaneously in both English and German. Overall, this scale shows significant levels of reliability and validity. The research was carried out since there has been an accelerating towards shorter personality instruments. It uses the same personality traits as the original study. The study consists of the psychometric chahracterisitcs of this scale, the correlation with the full scales and retest reliability, convergent validity and structural validity with the NEO-PI-R scale using multiple samples. We have used this 10-item scale in our survey in order to keep the survey shorter.

"Friend Networking Sites and their Relationship to Adolescents Well-being and Social Self-Esteem" is a paper by Patti M. Valkenburg, Jochen Peter and Alexander P. Schouten. This study was meant to investigate the consequences for adolescents' self-esteem and well-being as a result of the usage of social networking sites. They found that the frequency of usage had an indirect effect on the social esteem and well being. The usage determined the number of relationships formed on these sites, the frequency of feedbacks received on profiles, and the type of tone, that is, positive or negative. A positive tone enhanced the self esteem and well being, while a negative tone decreased the same. Their hypotheses were that social self esteem predicts their well-being, and also that usage would increase the chances of friendships on these sites. The results predicted that a positive feedback enhanced the self-esteem, while a negative tone decreased this self-esteem. This has enabled us to consider this part of the model into our considerations for our own model.


Based on the literature survey and the theoretical background provided, the following hypotheses have been developed:

H1: Openness to experience is positively related to individual's Social networking site usage, which is mediated by his Social Networking Motive.

H2: Conscientiousness is negatively related to individual's Social networking site usage, which is mediated by his Social Networking Motive.

H3: Extraversion is positively related to individual's Social networking site usage, which is mediated by his Social Networking Motive.

H4: Agreeableness is positively related to individual's Social networking site usage, which is mediated by his Social Networking Motive.

H5: Neuroticism is negatively related to individual's Social networking site usage, which is mediated by his Social Networking Motive.

H6: The relationship between perceived social networking benefits and the usage of social networking websites will vary depending on the gender


Till now the studies which have been undertaken have only analyzed the relationship between personality traits and the perceived usage of the social networking sites. There is a need for a study which can take into account various mediating variables which can affect such relationships. Our study tends to bridge that gap and would take into account mediating variable such as the perceived social networking motives and a moderating variable in the form of gender.


Operationalization requires three steps: formulation of concepts into variables, formulation of variables into measures and then deriving instruments for these measures. As per our research topic of the study of various variables impacting the use of social networking sites (SNS), we have considered the five variables of the Small 5 Personality test- Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism as the ones leading to the perceived benefits of social networking site. The reasoning behind this is that a personality of a person impacts how he perceives these sites to be, and what benefits he looks for in these sites. So, by floating the Small 5 Personality test questionnaire, we will be able to determine the personality traits of our sample population.

In order to measure the perceived benefits of the social networking sites, we plan to develop a scale to consider the factors or benefits that would lead to the use of the social networking sites, and would determine the intensity of their use. We would consider factors like friendship, knowledge, recreation, socialization etc. and based on responses received on these questions we can determine a benefits scale, by giving weightings to each variable. A research study done by Shailija Agarwal and Monika Mittal, An exploratory study of Indian university students' use of social networking web sites (March 2009), gives us insights into some of these factors. Once this scale is developed, we can see the impacts of these perceived benefits on the perceived usage. Sample questions are:

It helps me in meeting like-minded people

I use these sites because my friends use it

I use these sites because it is entertaining.

In order to measure usage, questions like these can be used:

The number of times you log into these sites per day

The number of posts you make per day?

I see videos and use media on these sites

They can be then measured to find the usage for each person in the sample. Thus each variable in our study can be measured by using these scales.


Objective: To study the relationship between the perceived benefits from a social networking site and the usage patterns of the sites, where the personality traits of the person determine his perceived benefits.

Research Questions proposed: Does the personality of an individual impact his perceived benefits from social networking sites, leading to different usage patterns among users?


Data Collection Procedure: The questionnaire designed for measuring the required traits will be circulated to the intended target group through emails

Choice of Respondents: Both male as well as female respondents with no bias towards any particular group and belonging to the age group 18-24

Control of Extraneous Variable if any: None

Analytical methods to be used: Standard Regression analysis techniques using the SPSS software on the data obtained through the various collection methods.

In addition to this, we plan to have normal conversations on the lines of focus groups (one that is very much informal) to generate useful information helpful in structuring questionnaires and also some background information.


Previous studies have sought to find out the ways in which personality affects usage of social networking sites. Our research goes one step ahead to find out why personality affects the usage of social networking sites. It intends to capture the reasons behind personality affecting the usage. We aim to do this through our moderating variables as already mentioned.

Advertisers: One important use of our research pertains to the field of online advertising which is becoming more popular by the day. Our research can tap into specific type of products/ services preferred by an individual on the basis of his social network usage patterns. For instances, certain products for extrovert personalities can be advertised on sites they use the most. This can go a long way in positioning a product to the right target segment.

From a cross-cultural perspective, the present study provides some insights into the social behaviour of Indian future professionals, which may be helpful for virtual organizations working with Indian partners.

Gaining knowledge through responsible use of the Internet and networking can ultimately make employees more productive and valuable in the ever-increasing complexity of the global economy.


This study uses a convenient sample of respondents who are mainly students and young professionals in the age group 18-24. This might not be appropriate to generalize the findings to other people in the same age group and others across different age groups.

Also, one more limitation is in terms of the sample respondents. Future research needs to obtain more diversified samples and continue to expand by trying to find more reasons of the intensity/ usage of social networking sites.


Future researches in the same direction can look to be more specialized by trying to capture the differences in usage by dividing the respondents into groups like professionals/ non-professionals and B.Tech/M.Tech/MBA.

By doing a multi-discriminatory analysis of each of the present social networking sites, we can tell so as to which site is more likely to be used by what kind of personality.

Our present research doesn't discriminate between the various websites/SNS but, further research can be carried out to reflect the reasons behind usage of a particular website by a specific personality. Research can also be carried out to emphasize the role of social groups in cross-cultural adaptations in an increasingly global economy.