Social capital and subjective well-being: The mediating role of social networking sites

Li-Ann Hwang, Jason Wei Jian Ng, Santha Vaithilingam


Many studies have examined the separate impacts of social capital (bonding and bridging) and the use of social networking sites (SNSs) on subjective well-being (SWB). However, few studies address the mediating role that SNS use has on the relationship between social capital and SWB. The current study addresses this research gap, examining the extent to which SNS use mediates the relationship between social capital and SWB. Moreover, this study theorizes SNS use to be a behavioural outcome of social capital, as opposed to the widespread view that SNSs are a tool to generate social capital. Using primary data from a sample of 307 undergraduate students, the partial least squares structural equation modelling technique was used to analyze the data via a sequential mediating mechanism. The findings highlight the importance of the utilitarian use of SNS in mediating the relationship between bridging social capital and SWB. On the other hand, the direct effect of bonding social capital on SWB was found to be stronger than the indirect effects, indicating that SNS use is not crucial in mediating this particular relationship. Theoretical and practical implications of the study are subsequently discussed.


social networking sites; Facebook; mediation analysis; social capital; subjective well-being; university students

Full Text:



A Great Cities Initiative of the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library.

© First Monday, 1995-2019. ISSN 1396-0466.