Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Cynthia Hoffner

Second Advisor

Dror Walter

Third Advisor

Anthony Lemieux

Fourth Advisor

Elizabeth Tighe


Social support provision plays an important role in the mechanism of exchanging social support on social media. Support provision can be beneficial to both receiver and provider. Grounded in the empathic-altruism hypothesis (Batson et al., 2011), negative-state relief model (Cialdini et al., 1987), need to belong theory (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), and work on impression management, this study sought to examine how altruistic traits (empathic concern, perspective-taking), egoistic traits (need to belong, negative affect, impression management), belief in altruism, and outcome expectations play a role in support provision on social media. College students (N=418) completed an online survey. Hierarchical multiple regressions tested how altruistic and egoistic traits predicted support provision on social media and offline, and whether belief in altruism moderated the relationship between altruistic traits and support provision on social media. A scale was developed to measure altruistic and egoistic outcome expectations for providing support on social media. Structural equation modeling (SEM) examined outcome expectations’ potential mediator role between altruistic and egoistic traits and support provision on social media.

Neither altruistic trait (empathic concern, perspective taking) predicted support provision on social media, but when belief in altruism was included as a moderator, perspective-taking was associated with greater support provision for respondents who held a stronger belief in altruism. Further, the SEM analysis found an indirect positive relationship between empathic concern and support provision on social media, mediated by altruistic outcome expectations. Regarding egoistic traits, impression management positively predicted support provision on social media, but affect balance and need to belong did not. However, when negative affect and positive affect were examined separately, both were positively related to support provision on social media. Similar analyses examined predictors of providing social support offline, to explore differences to the social media context.

The finding of this study broadened understanding of the factors that motivate individuals to provide social support on social media and offered deeper insights into the role of empathy and emotions in the context of support exchanging mechanisms on social media. This study concludes by addressing its theoretical contribution, practical implications, as well as the limitations and future research directions.


File Upload Confirmation