Social Science Computer Review

Volume 30, No.4

Winter, 2012


Impact of Internet Literacy, Internet Addiction Symptoms, and Internet Activities on Academic Performance   / Louis Leung & Paul S. N. Lee

Abstract: This study examines the interrelationships among Internet literacy, Internet addiction symptoms, Internet activities, and academic performance. Data were gathered from a probability sample of 718 children and adolescents, aged 9–19, in Hong Kong, using face-to-face interviews. Regression results show that adolescent Internet addicts tended to be male, in low-income families, and not confident in locating, browsing, and accessing information from multiple resources, but that they were technologically savvy and frequent users of social network services (SNS) and online games for leisure. Contrary to what was hypothesized, Internet literacy, especially in publishing and technology, increases—not decreases—the likelihood of someone getting addicted to the Internet. As expected, Internet activities, especially SNS and online games, were significantly and positively linked to Internet addiction as well as to all Internet addiction symptoms. This finding suggests that leisure-oriented Internet activities can be much more addictive than other applications such as communicating by e-mail or browsing webpages. Furthermore, the higher subjects scored on tool and social-structural literacy, the better their academic performance would be; however, technical literacy skills, such as publishing and technology literacy, were not significant predictors for academic performance. This indicates that adolescents who can locate, browse, and access different information resources and who are knowledgeable about the context under which the information was created performed better both in overall grades and in academic competence.


Traits, predictors, and consequences of Facebook self- presentation / Tao Sun & Guohua Wu

                Abstract: With Mowen’s 3M Model as a theoretical framework, this paper examines the hierarchical trait predictors and consequence of one’s perceived ability to modify self-presentation on Facebook (Facebook self-presentation). The study identifies several hierarchical routes to Facebook self-presentation (e.g., agreeableness, need to belong, online public self-consciousness, Facebook self-presentation, or conscientiousness self-efficacy, Internet self-efficacy, Facebook self-presentation). Facebook self-presentation is also significantly correlated with its outcome variable of Facebook intensity. Theoretical implications are provided.


Sensation-Seeking Profiles and Personal Innovativeness in Information Technology  / Jesús López-Bonilla & Luis Miguel López-Bonilla

Abstract: Sensation seeking has been studied extensively. However, the study of sensation-seeking profiles is still very limited in the literature and even more so in the area of information and communication technology (ICT). The present study analyzes sensation-seeking and the innovative behavior of individuals in the use of information technologies. This work explores the connection between two individual personality traits: sensation-seeking (from a social psychology perspective) and personal innovativeness in ICT (from marketing and information systems perspectives). An empirical study was carried out on a sample of 819 university students. We have analyzed 12 profiles, which were obtained from the combination of the four traits of the sensation-seeking scale. The results confirmed the relationship between both constructs in three sensation-seeking profiles


Two year study of emotion and communication patterns in a highly polarized political discussion forum / Pawel Sobkowicz & Antoni Sobkowicz

Abstract: The paper presents analysis of a Polish Internet political discussion forum, characterized by significant polarization and high levels of emotion. The study compares samples of discussions gathered at three periods during a two year time, during which events occurred that significantly increased the already strong political division of Polish society (the sudden death of the President in a plane crash, snap elections, accusations of assassination and treason). Despite these circumstances we observe a remarkable stability of individual political support. Extensive discussions among the forum users did not lead to changes in their political affiliations or specific opinions. In contrast, emotions expressed by the forum users, mainly negative, were found to vary from post to post and between the discussion threads. An automatic emotion recognition algorithm is presented, giving results closely corresponding to human evaluations. We also show that differences in a user interface between the two alternative forum Web pages, especially effects of features promoting direct one-to-one communication, have significant impact on message content and decrease negative emotions. Implications of such changes on promoting communication across a political divide are discussed.


Routine activity theory and the determinants of high cybercrime countries / Alex Kigerl

Abstract: Cybercrime and the threat is creates is growing in its reach, in accordance with the similar growth in information technology.  Some countries account for more of the variation in cybercrime activity than others, which affects less criminally involved nations as well, considering that cybercrime does not respect national borders over the internet.  Routine activity theory has been used to explain cybercrime at the individual level, but not the national level.  Much research has focused on high cybercrime countries, but this research is often conducted by cybersecurity firms and is exclusively descriptive, making no inferences.  This research sought to determine what characteristics predict whether a nation is high in either spamming activity or phishing activity.  A sample a 132 countries found that wealthier nations with more internet users per capita had higher cybercrime activity.  Unemployment was also found to interact with internet users such that the effect of the proportion of internet users on spam was strongest in nations with higher unemployment.  The implications these findings have for policy and suggestions for future research are discussed.


Asking Probing Questions in Web Surveys:: Which factors have an Impact on the Quality of Responses? /  Dorothee Behr, Lars Kaczmirek, Wolfgang Bandilla, Michael Braun

Abstract:  Cognitive interviewing is a well-established method for evaluating and improving a questionnaire prior to fielding. However, its present implementation brings with it some challenges, notably in terms of small sample sizes or the possibility of interviewer effects. In this study, we test web surveys through non-probability online panels as a supplemental means to implement cognitive interviewing techniques. The overall goal is to tackle the above mentioned challenges. The focus in this paper is on methodological features that pave the way for an eventual successful implementation of category-selection probing in web surveys. The study reports on the results of 1,023 respondents from Germany. In order to identify implementation features that lead to a high number of meaningful answers, we explore the effects of (1) different panels, (2) different probing variants, and (3) different numbers of preceding probes on answer quality. The overall results suggest that category-selection probing can indeed be implemented in web surveys. Using data from two panels – a community panel where members can actively get involved, e.g. by creating their own polls, and a ‘conventional’ panel where answering surveys is the members’ only activity – we find that high community involvement does not increase the likelihood to answer probes or produce longer statements. Testing three probing variants that differ in wording and provided context, we find that presenting the context of the probe (i.e., the probed item and the respondent’s answer) produces a higher number of meaningful answers. Finally, the likelihood to answer a probe decreases with the number of preceding probes. However, the word count of those who eventually answer the probes slightly increases with an increasing number of probes.


 Reports and Communications

Microsimulation modeling of student success in community colleges using MicroCC  / Martin Spielauer & Ron Anderson

Abstract: While microsimulation modeling has not been utilized extensively in either social science or educational research, it offers to greatly improve understanding, especially of careers and institutional changes over time. The MicroCC microsimulation model was developed and tested on over 250,000 community college students who enrolled in Connecticut and Rhode Island. MicroCC simulated term by term progress and completion of new students for 4.5 years. Using data-based effect coefficients, the model simulated decisions for four process factors: re-enrollment, fulltime attendance, the number of courses taken, and course completions. The model allowed decomposition of racial, gender, and other differences in success rates by process factors. The findings have major relevance for improving student success rates, especially by suggesting ways to make student advising more effective. Besides serving as an analytical tool, MicroCC allows projection of completion rates under “what-if” scenarios. Illustrative input data for MicroCC and a user and access guide are given in appendices.


                 Capturing the stream of behavior: A computer-joystick method for coding interpersonal                             behavior continuously over time / Ivana Lizdek , Pamela Sadler, Erik Woody, Nicole                            Ethier, and Giles Malet

Abstract:  The present article advances a joystick-based methodology for recording and studying time-dependent patterns as continuous phenomena. It is particularly useful for capturing moment-to-moment changes with regard to a state space defined by two orthogonal axes, as in studies involving the interpersonal circumplex or the mood circumplex.  A joystick monitoring program (free, downloadable, executable software available at is used. While watching a recorded interaction displayed on the computer screen, an observer moves the joystick to indicate a target person’s moment-to-moment behavior, and the X-Y coordinates are written frequently (e.g., twice per second) to a data file.  We describe the software and the nature of the data obtained.  We also suggest possible applications, such as studying subtle patterns of interpersonal behavior during interactions and studying individual differences in the perception of moment-to-moment variations in a target person’s affect.