Good samaritans on social network services: Effects of shared context information on social supports for strangers

Sangwon Bae, Jinkyu Jang, Jinwoo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Technological developments in smart phones and various sensors have been growing at a rapid pace, which leads people to share their context information with other users and support strangers in social network services (SNS). This allows us to study the effects of shared context information on socially supportive behaviors of individuals (Good Samaritans) in SNS. Our aim of this study is to investigate the pattern of social support amongst strangers in SNS. We aim to find out which types and forms of context information induce high levels of willingness to provide social support among strangers. We focus on four different types of context information (location, activity, emotion, or physical environment), which vary by degree of self-disclosure. We also investigated two forms of context information (subjective vs. objective), which differ depending on the provision of human interpretation. In order to achieve our research goals, we first constructed a causal model between context information and social support mediated by the theory of mind, which consists of simulation theory (empathy) and theory theory (rational reasoning). To verify the model, we conducted two exploratory pre-studies and a controlled main experiment Our results indicated that types and forms of context information affect social support, simulation theory and theory theory. First, we found that a high level of self-disclosure positively effects social support Context information in the subjective form induced more social supports compared to the objective form even though the information content itself is the same. Emotional context information presented in the subjective form has the strongest positive effect on social support. Furthermore, a high level of self-disdosure was found to positively affect context form's effect on simulation theory and soda! supports. In regard to theory theory, we discovered that high levels of self-disclosure have a positive effect. Both practical and theoretical implications of the study results have been presented. Theoretically, a conceptual model of the effects of context information on intention to provide social supports has been proposed and empirically verified. Practically, the interplay between context information types and forms can be utilized to construct social network services efficiently promoting social supports among fellow users. This paper ends with study limitations and implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)900-918
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2011-0012490). The authors appreciate Vassilis Kostakos and Mirco Musolesi, Social Networks and Ubiquitous Interactions Special Issue editors of IJHCS and Editor-in-Chief Susan Wiedenbeck, Ari Raz who kindly proofread the entire draft, and five anonymous reviewers. Thanks to anonymous good samaritans on social networking services around the world.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • Engineering(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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