Date of Award

4-21-2009

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Cynthia Hoffner - Chair

Second Advisor

Ann Williams

Third Advisor

Yuki Fujioka

Fourth Advisor

Christopher Henrich

Abstract

This study explored why individuals write personal blogs and the influences of blogging on their lives. Four structural equation models that specified the social and psychological process of blogging were tested in this study. The models included four major components: personal characteristics, blogging motives, blogging behaviors and blogging social outcomes. A total of 412 bloggers recruited online completed the survey questionnaire. A factor analysis revealed nine salient motives for writing personal blogs: self-documentation, information sharing, entertainment, emotion regulation, communication with existing friends, formation of new friendships, identity exploration, pass time and self-presentation. Significant associations between these motives and demographics, including gender, age and education, were also identified. The results of the structural equation modeling suggested that public self-consciousness was positively related to the self-presentation motive, which was in turn positively related to self-presentation in blogs. In the same vein, social anxiety was positively related to the motive to form new friendships, which in turn was positively related to the number of new friends made via blogs and the quality of new friendships. Social anxiety was found to be negatively associated with the number of new friends made, the number of existing friends communicated with, and the quality of existing friendships maintained through blogs, but positively related to the quality of new friendships established via blogs. Self-disclosure was positively related to the number of new friends made, the quality of new friendships and the quality of existing friendships. The mediation effects of blogging motivations and self-disclosure on the relationships between social anxiety and blogging social interaction outcomes were also tested. The content analysis of the responses to an open-ended question indicated that the majority of the respondents believed that blogging had positively influenced their lives. The major benefits of blogging reported by the respondents included keeping in touch with family and friends, making new friends, improved social interaction, writing and thinking ability, expanded vision, emotional relief and social support, identity exploration, and documentation of daily life. Interpretations of the findings, and implications for understanding the social use of the Internet, were discussed.

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