Why Individuals With Low Self-Esteem Do Not Reap the Benefits of Self-Disclosure on social networking sites

Shuizhen Wang and Hongyu Ma


There is a debate whether social networking sites could be beneficial for socially incompetent individuals, especially for low self-esteem, who are normally hesitant to self-disclose and who have difficulty maintaining satisfying relationships. The present research aims to further examine the dispute by investigating how to use SNS for different self-esteem individuals and the effects of self-esteem on bridging social capital in the context of QQ space use. It was hypothesized that QQ space users low in self-esteem would share more true self and seek more friends than individuals with high self-esteem, since QQ space would reduce the perceived riskiness of self-disclosure. We also hypothesized that those with lower self-esteem gained more from their use of Facebook in terms of bridging social capital than higher self-esteem participants. Data were collected from a college student sample in the China (N = 243) based on an cross-sectional survey. We found that users low in self-esteem do not reap the benefits of self-disclosure on QQ space because those with lower self-esteem share only superficial self and their profiles are mainly for online friends rather than real life friends. The results verify again network behavior is the representation of actual behavior, those with low self-esteem hesitant to self-disclose in real life as well as online. * This research was supported by the Major Research Plan of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.91324201), and the Distinguished Young Scholars of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.31200795).