Integrating Trust, Social Capital, and Social Exchange to Explain Social Media Engagement

By Richard Whiddett, Inga Hunter and Jocelyn Handy.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Internet–based social media technologies provide a variety of contexts for people to engage in social interaction; they provide different types of relationships and a variety of potential risks. This paper proposes a theoretical model which integrates theories of trust, social capital, and social exchange to explain peoplInternet–based social media technologies provide a variety of contexts for people to engage in social interaction; they provide different types of relationships and a variety of potential risks. This paper proposes a theoretical model which integrates theories of trust, social capital and social exchange to explain people’s engagement with these technologies. Mayers, Davis and Schoorman’s (1995) influential theory of trust and risk taking provides a framework for understanding the factors which influence an individual’s evaluation of the risks of engaging in activities where success is dependent on another actor. A limitation of Trust theory is that it does not explain the role of perceived costs and rewards as factors influencing people’s propensity to engage in social activities. Social Exchange Theory and the concept of Social Capital provide a framework for this analysis. This paper illustrates how the integration of these concepts can provide a model of social behaviour which can used to interpret the uptake of a range of internet-mediated relationships such as online auctions, online communities of practice and social networking applications. The theoretical model provides conceptual framework which can guide designers of and social media strategies and developers of applications in the production of engaging user experiences.e’s engagement with these technologies. Mayers, Davis, and Schoorman’s (1995) influential theory of trust and risk taking provides a framework for understanding the factors which influence an individual’s evaluation of the risks of engaging in activities where success is dependent on another actor. A limitation of Trust theory is that it does not explain the role of perceived costs and rewards as factors influencing people’s propensity to engage in social activities. Social Exchange Theory and the concept of Social Capital provide a framework for this analysis. This paper illustrates how the integration of these concepts can provide a model of social behaviour which can used to interpret the uptake of a range of internet-mediated relationships such as online auctions, online communities of practice and social networking applications. The theoretical model provides conceptual framework which can guide designers of and social media strategies and developers of applications in the production of engaging user experiences.

Keywords: Trust, Social Capital, Social Exchange Theory, Social Media, Privacy

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.9-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 539.896KB).

Dr. Richard Whiddett

Senior Lecturer, School of Management, College of Business, Massey University, Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand

Dr. Inga Hunter

Senior Lecturer, School of Management, College of Business, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Dr. Jocelyn Handy

Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Massey University, Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand