Social Science Computer Review

Volume 31, No.  4

August, 2013


Elderly persons and Internet use / María A. Ramón-Jerónimo, Begoña Peral-Peral, & Jorge Arenas-Gaitán

Abstract: The inclusion of the elderly in the digital era could positively impact on their social and economic welfare. However, their level of Internet use is relatively low in Spain compared to other sectors of the population. The present study aims to explain the Internet use in this segment, capturing the heterogeneity across gender in the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). A sample of 492 individuals over 50 years old has been analyzed using the multi-group approach of Structural Equations Models (SEM). The results show that although TAM is suitable for studying the phenomenon, it is necessary to consider how the gender gap in the Internet use development is real for seniors. Contrary to previous results which pointed to a greater importance of the ease of use for women than men among Internet users, male elders seem to perceive more usefulness due to higher levels of ease of use than woman. This ease of use is also better explained by the level of enjoyment for males. All these results point to unique gender differences for older adults in their Internet use.  


Internet Use, Online Communication, and Ties in Americans’ Networks  / Wenhong Chen

Abstract: Drawing on nationally representative survey data, this paper examines the implications of Internet use and online communication for strong and weak ties in Americans’ social networks. Results show that both Internet use and online communication are positively related to the aggregated size of the core discussion networks and the overall extensity of the position-generated networks. However, the relationships vary by tie strength. First, Internet use – but not online communication - is positively related to weak-tie based network extensity in the position-generated networks. Second, Internet use and online communication are positively related to the number and the proportion of strong ties in Americans’ core discussion networks.


 Clinical and personality correlates of MMO gaming: Anxiety and absorption in problematic Internet use / Sadie H. Cole and Jill M. Hooley

Abstract: Aims: Massively-multiplayer online games (MMOs) are increasingly popular worldwide. MMO gaming can result in problematic Internet use (PIU; or Internet addiction), which is characterized by dysfunction in areas such as work or relationships. Because PIU in online gaming is increasingly seen in clinical populations, we explored PIU in the context of MMO gaming. Design: Using a cross-sectional design, we sought to identify clinical and personality factors, as well as motivations for gaming, that differentiated between people who scored high or low on a measure of problematic Internet use. Setting: Subjects completed all study procedures via an online survey. Participants: 163 MMO users were recruited from the community, from gaming websites, and from online forums. Measurements: Subjects completed a series of demographic, mood, anxiety, and personality questionnaires. Findings: Individuals in the high PIU group (n = 79) were more likely to have higher levels of social phobia (p = .000), state (p = .000) and trait (p = .000) anxiety, introversion (p = .000), neuroticism (p = .000) and absorption (p = .019) than individuals in the low-PIU group (n = 84). Different reasons for gaming also characterized the group with more problematic Internet use. Conclusions: Our findings provide support for the idea that high anxiety and absorption may be risk factors for problematic Internet use within the MMO gaming environment and suggest that gamers who endorse problematic Internet use identify different motivations for online gaming than gamers who do not.


Showing Off? Human Mobility and the Interplay of Traits, Self-disclosure, and Facebook Check-ins / Shaojing Sharon Wang & Michael A. Stefanone

Abstract: Mobile and location media refer to technologies that can openly and dynamically portray the characteristics of the users and their mundane life. Facebook check-in highlights physical and informational mobility of the users relating individual activities into spaces. This study explored how personality traits, extraversion, and narcissism, function to influence self-disclosure, which in turn, impacts intensity of check-in on Facebook. Using survey data collected through Facebook check-in users in Taiwan (N=523), the results demonstrated that although extraversion and narcissism might not directly impact check-in intensity on Facebook, the indirect effects of self-disclosure and exhibitionism were particularly salient. Moreover, a complete path from extraversion to Facebook check-in through self-disclosure and exhibitionism was discovered. Theoretical implications on human mobility and selective self-presentation are also discussed.


Identifying and tracking major events using geo-social networks / Eitan Bahir and Ammatzia Peled

Abstract: In recent years, several technological advancements have changed the lives of millions throughout the globe. These include broadband internet wireless access, advanced mobile platforms and smartphones including accurate GPS capabilities, and the introduction of social networks. The fusion of these technological advances led to the massive adoption of mobile platform operated social networking applications and unleashed new real-time and on-site social information.    The ability to generate content anywhere and anytime leads to a detectable projection of real life events on geo-social networks. For example, in a preparation for a rally the geo-social activity may precede the actual event, allowing predictive capabilities. Alternatively, in a natural event such as a wildfire, early content generated in the proximity of the event may allow early identification of the event and the assessment of its physical boundaries.   In this paper we propose to use the massive and rapidly accumulating information communicated within geo-social networks to identify and track major events and present a proof of concept. We discuss means and methods to retrieve relevant information from the networks, through a set of adequate spatial, temporal and textual filters. Our preliminary empirical results corroborate our assumptions and show that major events may have detectable “abnormal” impact on geo-social network activities, which allows prompt identification and real time tracking.  Our approach is expected to pave the way to the development of real time systems and algorithms for early identification and geographical tracking of major events.


Missed Beeps and Missing Data: Dispositional and Situational Predictors of Non-Response in Experience Sampling Research / Paul J. Silvia, Thomas R. Kwapil, Kari M. Eddington, & Leslie H. Brown

Abstract: Experience sampling research measures people’s thought, feelings, and actions in their everyday lives by repeatedly administering brief questionnaires throughout the day. Non-response—failing to respond to these daily life questionnaires—has been a vexing source of missing data. The present research examined person-level, day-level, and signal-level predictors of non-response. We analyzed data from a sample of 450 young adults who were signaled eight times a day for seven days. At the person level, non-response was higher for men and for people high in positive schizotypy, depressive symptoms, and hypomania. At the day level, non-response increased over the first few days of the study and then declined toward the end. At the signal level, time of day strongly predicted non-response. Lagged signal-level analyses examined how emotions and experiences at a prior signal prospectively predicted the likelihood of ignoring the next signal. Only one variable—feelings of enthusiasm—had a significant lagged effect, which suggests that within-day experiences are not major sources of non-response. For the most part, the day of the study and the time of day had the most salient effects. Understanding the predictors of missing data allows researchers to implement methods to increase compliance and to handle missing data more effectively by including predictors of non-response.


Comparing Survey Results Obtained via Mobile Devices and Computers / Marika de Bruijne and Arnaud Wijnant,

Abstract: With the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet PCs (tablets) equipped with mobile browsers, the possibilities to administer surveys via mobile devices have expanded. To investigate the possible mode effect on answer behavior, results are compared between a mobile device-assisted web survey and a computer-assisted web survey. First, a pre-measurement in the CentERpanel is conducted to analyze the user group of mobile devices. Second, the users are randomly allocated one of three conditions: 1) conventional computer-assisted web survey, 2) mobile web survey, and 3) a hybrid version: a computer-assisted web survey with a layout similar to the mobile survey. Special attention is given to the design of the mobile web questionnaire, taking small screen size and typical functionalities for touchscreens into account. The findings suggest that survey completion on mobile devices need not lead to different results than on computers, but one should be prepared for a lower response rate and longer survey completion time. Further, the study offers considerations for researchers on survey satisfaction, location during survey completion and preferred device to access Internet. With adaptations, surveys can be conducted on the newest mobile devices, although new challenges are emerging and further research is called for.


Boolean minimization in social science research: A review of current software for qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) / Alrik Thiem and Adrian Duşa

Abstract: Besides an increase in the number of empirical applications, the widening landscape of tailored computer programs attests to the success of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) as a social research method. Users now have the choice between three graphical (GUI) and three command-line interface (CLI) solutions. In addition to different functional foci, each program possesses several technical particularities, some of which the vast majority of end-users remain unaware of. Since these particularities may influence results and in turn substantive conclusions, this review is a timely undertaking. More specifically, we compare the two most common GUIs fs/QCA and Tosmana as well as the CLI QCA. By reanalyzing data from a sociological study on rural grassroots associations in Norway, major differences and similarities with respect to truth table construction, minimization algorithms and prime implicant chart management are illustrated.