The Online Social Support Scale: Measure Development and Validation

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Abstract

A new measure, the Online Social Support Scale, was developed based on previous theory, research, and measurement of in-person social support. It includes four subscales: Esteem/Emotional Support, Social Companionship, Informational Support, and Instrumental Support. In college and community samples, factor analytic and item response theory results suggest that subtypes of in-person social support also pertain in the online world. Evidence of reliability, convergent validity, and discriminant validity provide excellent psychometric support for the measure. Construct validity accrues to the measure vis-à-vis support for three hypotheses: (a) Various broad types of Internet platforms for social interactions are differentially associated with online social support and online victimization; (b) similar to in-person social support, online social support offsets the adverse effect of negative life events on self-esteem and depression-related outcome; and (c) online social support counteracts the effects of online victimization in much the same way that in-person friends in one social niche counterbalance rejection in other social niches.

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