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Tuesday, July 12 • 13:31 - 14:30
Examining the Moderating Role of Personality Traits in the Effect of Microblogging Usage on Social Capital

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Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG01, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
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Contributor: Yu Guo, Macau University of Science and Technology, China


There are also trends in social media research to explore the process and mechanism of social media impact, for instance, whether the effect depends on individuals’ intrinsic properties or particular features of their environment. Previous studies generally considered individual characteristics such as personalities as independent predictors of social media behaviour as well as its outcomes, but paid little attention to the potential bridging role of a user’s personality in the process of effects occurring.

An earlier study (Swickert, Hittner, Harris, & Herring, 2002) considered the moderating role of personality in the association between Internet use and social support, and found marginally significant interaction effects. A recent research (Kim, Hsu, & Zuniga, 2013) found that impact of social media on civic participation and discussion heterogeneity was moderated by individuals’ extraversion and openness to experience. To investigate the role of personalities in the association between social media use and perceived social capital, this study applied the Five-Factor Model (FFM), which is also known as the Big Five. The FFM divides personality into five dimensions, including extraversion, openness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, which have greatly helped previous research involving the investigation of individual differences (Barrick & Mount, 1991).


Given the above, the present study took steps to explore the moderation effects of personality traits (i.e., extraversion, openness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness) in the relationship between social media use and interpersonal relationships.


An online survey was carried out by the research faculty of media and communication located at the Hokkaido University. Questionnaire was designed based on previous studies and posted on the web-survey platform of a research institute. An invitation email with the URL link to the electronic version of the questionnaire was sent to Chinese Weibo users of the panel of the research institute. Within one week, a total of 821 valid samples (male=400, female=421) with a response rate of 28.4% were collected for analyses in the present study.


Results of hierarchical regression suggested that personality traits, including extraversion, openness, neuroticism, and agreeableness, have potential power to determine the degree of relational benefits gained from social media use.

Future Work: 

Besides the findings and implications, several limitations should be addressed. One of them is related to the measurement of social capital used in this study. Items are mostly self-reported judgments rather than real estimation of social capital. Therefore, future research may consider measuring social capital in more practical contexts. For instance, taking individuals’ civic participation, interpersonal trust, and social network size as dimensions to represent their actual social capital. Second, this study tested the moderation effects by using hierarchical multiple regression. However, linear regression has limitations in variable control. To achieve more rigorous explanation of the interacting effects, future research is suggested to use more sophisticated methodologies that can better rule out the intervention of irrelevant variables, for instance, using the structural equation modeling.


Kim, Yonghwan, Hsu, Shih-Hsien, & Zuniga, Homero Gill de. (2013). Influence of social media use on discussion network heterogeneity and civic engagement: The moderating role of personality traits. Journal of Communication, 63, 498-516.

Barrick, Murray R, & Mount, Michael K. (1991). The big five personality dimensions and job performance: A meta‐analysis. Personnel psychology, 44(1), 1-26.

Swickert, Rhonda J, Hittner, James B, Harris, Jamie L, & Herring, Jennifer A. (2002). Relationships among Internet use, personality, and social support. Computers in Human Behavior, 18(4), 437-451.

Tuesday July 12, 2016 13:31 - 14:30 UTC
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG01 Goldsmiths University, Building 2