The Effects of Day-to-Day Interaction via Social Network Sites on Interpersonal Relationships

  • David Houghton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The current research identifies the impact of sharing day-to-day information insocial network sites (SNS) on the relationships we hold within and outside of them. Stemming from the literature on self-disclosure, uncertainty reduction, personal relationships, privacy and computer-mediated communication (CMC), a concurrent triangulation research strategy is adopted to identify the patterns of relationship development and interaction in SNS. Using a mixed methods approach, five studies were conducted to determine how young adults interact via SNS. Empirical findings suggest SNS users are driven by the need to reduce uncertainty and gather information about their interaction partners. An interaction between several factors was found to impact on relationships between communication partners: the frequency of information sharing; the content of the shared information; the type of relationship held between thesender and recipient; the stage of relationship development; the medium ofcommunication, and; an expected social contract. A conceptual model of interpersonal interaction within SNS environments is proposed, identifying the links between sharing, certainty and relationship quality, and manifested communication behaviour throughout relationship development. Implications for the fields of communication science, CMC, and social and behavioural psychology are discussed.
Date of Award31 May 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAdam Joinson (Supervisor) & Nigel Caldwell (Supervisor)


  • self-disclosure
  • uncertainty
  • liking
  • social network sites
  • relationships

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