+ Site Statistics
+ Search Articles
+ PDF Full Text Service
How our service works
Request PDF Full Text
+ Follow Us
Follow on Facebook
Follow on Twitter
Follow on LinkedIn
+ Subscribe to Site Feeds
Most Shared
PDF Full Text
+ Translate
+ Recently Requested

Do online social media cut through the constraints that limit the size of offline social networks?

Do online social media cut through the constraints that limit the size of offline social networks?

Royal Society Open Science 3(1): 150292

The social brain hypothesis has suggested that natural social network sizes may have a characteristic size in humans. This is determined in part by cognitive constraints and in part by the time costs of servicing relationships. Online social networking offers the potential to break through the glass ceiling imposed by at least the second of these, potentially enabling us to maintain much larger social networks. This is tested using two separate UK surveys, each randomly stratified by age, gender and regional population size. The data show that the size and range of online egocentric social networks, indexed as the number of Facebook friends, is similar to that of offline face-to-face networks. For one sample, respondents also specified the number of individuals in the inner layers of their network (formally identified as support clique and sympathy group), and these were also similar in size to those observed in offline networks. This suggests that, as originally proposed by the social brain hypothesis, there is a cognitive constraint on the size of social networks that even the communication advantages of online media are unable to overcome. In practical terms, it may reflect the fact that real (as opposed to casual) relationships require at least occasional face-to-face interaction to maintain them.

Please choose payment method:

(PDF emailed within 0-6 h: $19.90)

Accession: 057648003

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26909163

DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150292

Related references

Online Actions with Offline Impact: How Online Social Networks Influence Online and Offline User Behavior. Proceedings of the .. International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining. International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining 2017: 537-546, 2017

Maternal Knowing and Social Networks: Understanding First-Time Mothers' Search for Information and Support Through Online and Offline Social Networks. Qualitative Health Research 28(10): 1552-1563, 2018

Online and offline social networks: Use of social networking sites by emerging adults. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 29(6): 420-433, 2008

Prospective mixed methods study of online and offline social networks and the development of sexual agency in adolescence: the Social Networks and Agency Project (SNAP) protocol. Bmj Open 9(5): E024329, 2019

Offline Social Relationships and Online Cancer Communication: Effects of Social and Family Support on Online Social Network Building. Health Communication 32(11): 1422-1429, 2017

What happens online stays online? Social media dependency, online support behavior and offline effects for Lgbt. Computers in Human Behavior 93: 91-98, 2019

The Double Meaning of Online Social Space: Three-Way Interactions Among Social Anxiety, Online Social Behavior, and Offline Social Behavior. Cyberpsychology Behavior and Social Networking 18(9): 514-520, 2015

Social features of online networks: the strength of intermediary ties in online social media. Plos one 7(1): E29358, 2012

The structure of online social networks mirrors those in the offline world. Social Networks 43: 39-47, 2015

The social side of gaming: How playing online computer games creates online and offline social support. Computers in Human Behavior 28(3): 832-839, 2012

Im still socially anxious online: Offline relationship impairment characterizing social anxiety manifests and is accurately perceived in online social networking profiles. Computers in Human Behavior 49: 12-19, 2015

Using Social Media, Online Social Networks, and Internet Search as Platforms for Public Health Interventions: A Pilot Study. Health Services Research 51(Suppl. 2): 1273-1290, 2016

Structural characteristics of the online social networks of maltreated youth and offline sexual risk behavior. Child Abuse and Neglect 85: 209-219, 2018

Combining structure, content and meaning in online social networks: The analysis of public's early reaction in social media to newly launched movies. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 109: 35-49, 2016

Social networking site (SNS) use by adolescent mothers: Can social support and social capital be enhanced by online social networks? - A structured review of the literature. Midwifery 48: 24-31, 2017