Processes and Effects of Mobile Phone-mediated Social Interactions: Motives, Use Patterns, and Social Capital Outcomes

Open Access
Bae, Keunmin
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 21, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Dennis Karl Davis, Dissertation Advisor
  • Mary Beth Oliver, Committee Chair
  • Matthew Paul Mcallister, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Special Member
  • Mobile Phone
  • Social Capital
  • Uses and Gratifications Theory
  • Self-Disclosure
  • Psychological Wellness
  • Civic Engagement
Although some previous studies found positive associations between interpersonal communication media and social capital outcomes, such as life satisfaction, social trust, civic engagement, social leisure activities, and political engagement, little empirical research has been done on the examination of the mobile phone and its implications for social capital at the individual level. Using an online survey technique, this study investigated the causal mechanisms involving individuals’ social interaction motives for mobile phone use, the quantity, the content, and the quality of mobile phone-mediated social interactions, and the effects on social capital outcomes, based on the theoretical grounds of social capital, uses and gratifications theory, and relationship theories. Results indicated the potential value of mobile phone-mediated social interactions. Motives for contacting close friends were positively associated with mobile phone use and with mobile phone-mediated self-disclosure. Motives for contacting acquaintances were not related to mobile phone use but negatively related to mobile phone-mediated self-disclosure. Mobile phone use was directly, positively associated with perceived social support, civic engagement activities, and social leisure activities, but indirectly with life satisfaction (via social support and social leisure activities). Mobile phone use was negatively related to social trust, whereas mediated self-disclosure was positively associated with social trust. Mobile phone-mediated self-disclosure was directly related to stronger life satisfaction and to social trust. Theoretical implications of mobile phone-mediated social interactions for social capital were discussed, followed by practical implications on developing and using the mobile phone, and future research opportunities.