Social and parasocial relationships on social network sites and their differential relationships with users' psychological well-being

Young Min Baek, Young Bae, Hyunmi Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Citations (Scopus)


With the advent of social network sites (SNSs), people can efficiently maintain preexisting social relationships and make online friendships without offline encounters. While such technological features of SNSs hold a variety of potential for individual and collective benefits, some scholars warn that use of SNSs might lead to socially negative consequences, such as social isolation, erosion of social cohesion, or SNS addiction. This study distinguishes types of SNS relationships, and investigates their relationships with social isolation, interpersonal trust, and SNS addiction. We classify SNS relationships into two types: (a) social relationships based on reciprocity between a user and his/her friends, and (b) parasocial relationships in which an ordinary user is aware of activities of a celebrity (e.g., famous actors, athletes, and others) but not vice versa. Based on achievements in studies of media effect and social psychology, we constructed a set of hypotheses, and tested them using a subsample of SNS users drawn from representative survey data in South Korea. We found that dependency on parasocial relationships is positively related with loneliness but negatively correlated with interpersonal distrust, while dependency on social relationship is negatively correlated with loneliness but positively related with trust. However, more dependency on both social and parasocial relationships are positively related with SNS addiction. Implications based on findings are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-517
Number of pages6
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jul 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications

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