School of Communication and the Arts
Doctor of Philosophy in Communication (PhD)
computer-mediated communication, social support, emoji, Facebook, virtual endorsements, social media
Rawlings, Lina, "The Power of the “Like”: A Quantitative Study on the Facebook Emoji as Social Support" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 5022.
This quantitative study aimed to evaluate how receiving a Facebook “like” correlates to the perception of social support and how much this correlation is moderated by the age and gender of the users. The social information processing theory guided the study, providing a framework to explain how communicators adapt to the restriction of nonverbal cues by creating surrogates to maintain interpersonal relationships in computer-mediated communication circumstances. For the central research question, findings revealed that receiving a Facebook “like” positively correlates with perceptions of social support from Facebook friends and family. While no significant correlation was found between the gender of users, age was identified as a moderator. The descriptive statistical analysis found that a substantial proportion of Facebook users (44%) feel “happier than before” after receiving a Facebook “like.” By revealing that happiness increases when individual users seek social support on Facebook and receive “likes” on their posts, this research validates how Facebook reactions play a role in individual users’ mental health.