CityU Institutional Repository >
3_CityU Electronic Theses and Dissertations >
ETD - Dept. of Media and Communication >
COM – Doctor of Philosophy >
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
|Title: ||Growth model of online friendship and individual, dyadic, and network determinants|
|Other Titles: ||Zai xian you yi guan xi de zeng zhang mo shi ji qi ge ti, dui ou yu jie gou ying xiang yin su|
|Authors: ||Zhang, Lun ( 張倫)|
|Department: ||Department of Media and Communication|
|Degree: ||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Issue Date: ||2011|
|Publisher: ||City University of Hong Kong|
|Subjects: ||Online social networks.|
|Notes: ||CityU Call Number: HM742 .Z44 2011|
x, 181 leaves : ill. 30 cm.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--City University of Hong Kong, 2011.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 117-135)
|Abstract: ||The online social networking sites (SNSs), which have rocketed from technique engaging
niche users into a dominant online communication platform engaging millions of users, may
change the pattern of online interpersonal communication. The study found that dyadic
characteristics and structural factors largely determined the behavior of friendship formation,
rather than characteristics of users.
The data of the current study are collected from one of the largest SNS platforms in
China, coving the first two years (2006-07) since its inception, during which time most users of
the SNS were college students. The dataset records an anonym zed ID, demographic
characteristics, a list of bidirectional friends and the time of the friendship formation. In total, 10
million users and 200 million bidirectional ties are involved.
Using polynomial logistic regression to fit the time path of friendship formation for each
individual user, the study finds that the increase in the number of friends for each user typically
follows a Logistic function with time, indicating that the growth of friends starts slowly at the
beginning, speeds up rapidly after reaching a critical point, and then tapers off finally. More
importantly, the trajectories appear uniformly, if not identically, across individuals who joined
the social network at quite different points in time, suggesting a high degree of regularity in user
behavior when forming friendship.
This study further examines the growth trajectory of friendship of the entire SNS, and
compares the resulting of global-level trajectory with the individual-level trajectories.
Surprisingly, there emerges a strong self-similarity in the growth of friendship between the individual level and the global level, which reinforces the regularity of social friendship
Although users show a similar time path of adding friends, there are substantial
differences across individuals in the sheer size of their friendship networks. As the second
research objective, the study examines the effects of three sets of factors, including
characteristics of network structure, characteristics of dyadic friendship, and characteristics of
individual users, on the likelihood of the friendship formation.
Of the factors under study, Balance Structure and the Cohesiveness of User's Ego
Network (which involves the user as the "ego-center" and only directly-related friends as other
members of the network) are the two most dominant factors influencing the tie formation.
Contrary to the prevailing theory of "Preferential Attachment" in the previous literature,
friendship formation is positively related to Homophily of Degree (i.e, number of friends), which
means that people make friends with similar (rather than famous) others. In addition, the
Popularity of the user and his/her Experience with using the SNS has a negative effect on
friendship formation, i.e., users with higher popularity or longer SNS using history are less likely
to add new friends. Likewise, Homophily of Experience has also a negative effect on friendship
formation in that users become increasingly inclined to establish friendship with those with
different duration of experience with the SNS (i.e., veteran users are more likely to add new
comers whereas new comers more likely to team up with veterans), which suggests that
friendship formation is a dynamic process throughout which users change their friendship
strategies over time. Finally, individual characteristics, such as Sex and level of online Self-Disclosure, do not have any significant effect on the tie formation, which in fact strengthens the
importance of structural factors reported above.
The findings of structural effects on friendship formation sheds some lights on social
media marketing in the sense that online marketers could choose marketing information initiators
according to users network positions, rather than users SNS usage frequency or motivation. In
addition, this study also has some practical implications on SNS operators. Considering the
strategy of retaining user loyalty, SNS operators should focused more on the friendship
maintenance, such as encouraging the creation of user generated contents and developing tools to
facilitate information sharing, rather than simply encouraging friendship formation since most
users will stop adding new friends after they reach their saturation point.|
|Online Catalog Link: ||http://lib.cityu.edu.hk/record=b4086026|
|Appears in Collections:||COM – Doctor of Philosophy |
Items in CityU IR are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.