It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it: An experimental task delineates among passive, reactive and interactive styles of behaviour on social networking sites


Studies have produced vastly disparate findings when exploring relationships between social networking site (SNS) usage and psychosocial well-being. These inconsistencies might reflect a lack of consideration for how people use SNS; specifically, while meaningful interactions are suggested to foster positive feelings, the passive consumption of others’ feeds is proposed to have negative effects on users’ well-being. To facilitate the empirical evaluation of these claims, the present study developed a computerised task to measure styles of usage on a mock SNS platform. Administering this Social Network Site Behaviour Task (SNSBT) online to 526 individuals, we identified three dissociable usage styles that extend the active-passive dichotomy employed frequently in the literature: passive use (consuming content posted by others), reactive use (reacting to others’ content), and interactive use (interacting with others through content sharing). Furthermore, our data reveal that these usage styles differ on several measures of psychosocial variables employed frequently in the disparate literature: more interactive users reported greater feelings of social connectedness and social capital than passive or reactive users. Importantly, however, our results also reveal the multi-dimensional nature of usage styles, with online network size and time spent on SNS platforms serving as potentially confounding influences on some psychosocial measures. These findings not only advance our understanding of SNS behaviour by providing empirical support for theoretic propositions, but also demonstrate the utility of the SNSBT for experimental investigations into the psychosocial outcomes of different SNS usage styles.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
Additional Information: Copyright © 2022, Shaw et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. All materials and data associated with this study are publicly available on the Open Science Framework:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans,Social Networking
Publication ISSN: 1932-6203
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2024 16:23
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2022 10:47
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Related URLs: (Related URL)
https://journal ... al.pone.0276765 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2022-12-07
Accepted Date: 2022-10-12
Authors: Shaw, Daniel J. (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-1139-8301)
Kaye, Linda K.
Ngombe, Nicola
Kessler, Klaus (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-7307-9539)
Pennington, Charlotte R. (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-5259-642X)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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