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An Invisible Leverage in the Adoption of Online Social Support Community
Unformatted Document Text:  Running Head: Invisible Leverage in Adoption of Online Social Support Community 8 Network support includes messages that help broaden the recipient’s social network by connecting the recipient to experts or those with similar experiences. Esteem support involves messages that validate the recipient’s self-concept. Emotional support includes messages that support the recipient’s emotional state by expressing sympathy and empathy. Those classifications overlap in some categories and complement in other categories. The importance of such categories as tangible support and instrumental support decreases in the study of OSSC since these entail physical contact among OSSC participants. Informational and emotional support would be common elements. Preece (1999a) took a different approach. Instead of coding all kinds of social support, she focused only on online empathy. She assumed that online empathy, which closely resembles emotional or esteem support, is the core of online social support. Based on Ickes’ empathic accuracy that refers to the ability to detect accurately the emotional information being transmitted by another person, she categorized postings from a knee injury online support group into factual, empathic, personal narrative, and hostile. Network Characteristics and Social Support The other aspect of online social support is network characteristics. The link between social network analysis and social support is the possibility that social connectedness may lead to social support. Even though Gottlieb stated that this assumption had contradictions, he nevertheless conceded, "social networks may be structured in such a way as to leave individuals with many or few channels of communication, and with large or small fund of social resources that can be mobilized in the coping process" (1981, p.203). The mere perception of "being connected" may contribute to network members’ perceived social support. Therefore, such structural features as size, density, clustering, blockmodeling, tie strength, multiplexity, and reciprocity affect perceived social support among network members (Garton, Haythornwaite, & Wellmann, 1997; Walker, Wasserman, & Wellman, 1994; Wellman, 1992). Even though the biggest advantage of OSSC is that participants may theoretically receive social support from an infinite number of other fellow sufferers, there should be optimal levels of network size. Like in face-to-face interaction, people may also feel alienated if the network size exceeds a certain level. Therefore, the study hypothesizes that there will be a curvilinear relationship between network size and OSSC adoption. Wellman et al. (as cited in Wellman,

Authors: Yun, Haejin., Park, Songyi. and Kim, Hee-Jung.
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Running Head: Invisible Leverage in Adoption of Online Social Support Community
8
Network support includes messages that help broaden the recipient’s social network by
connecting the recipient to experts or those with similar experiences. Esteem support involves
messages that validate the recipient’s self-concept. Emotional support includes messages that
support the recipient’s emotional state by expressing sympathy and empathy.
Those classifications overlap in some categories and complement in other categories.
The importance of such categories as tangible support and instrumental support decreases in the
study of OSSC since these entail physical contact among OSSC participants. Informational and
emotional support would be common elements.
Preece (1999a) took a different approach. Instead of coding all kinds of social support,
she focused only on online empathy. She assumed that online empathy, which closely resembles
emotional or esteem support, is the core of online social support. Based on Ickes’ empathic
accuracy that refers to the ability to detect accurately the emotional information being
transmitted by another person, she categorized postings from a knee injury online support group
into factual, empathic, personal narrative, and hostile.
Network Characteristics and Social Support
The other aspect of online social support is network characteristics. The link between
social network analysis and social support is the possibility that social connectedness may lead to
social support. Even though Gottlieb stated that this assumption had contradictions, he
nevertheless conceded, "social networks may be structured in such a way as to leave individuals
with many or few channels of communication, and with large or small fund of social resources
that can be mobilized in the coping process" (1981, p.203). The mere perception of "being
connected" may contribute to network members’ perceived social support. Therefore, such
structural features as size, density, clustering, blockmodeling, tie strength, multiplexity, and
reciprocity affect perceived social support among network members (Garton, Haythornwaite, &
Wellmann, 1997; Walker, Wasserman, & Wellman, 1994; Wellman, 1992).
Even though the biggest advantage of OSSC is that participants may theoretically receive
social support from an infinite number of other fellow sufferers, there should be optimal levels of
network size. Like in face-to-face interaction, people may also feel alienated if the network size
exceeds a certain level. Therefore, the study hypothesizes that there will be a curvilinear
relationship between network size and OSSC adoption. Wellman et al. (as cited in Wellman,


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