Online social support groups

Martin Tanis

in Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199561803
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191743771 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Online social support groups

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  • Social Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology


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To give and receive social support is an important aspect of social interaction, and since the Internet has become more and more integrated with everyday life, it is no surprise that much social support is exchanged online. Features of computer-mediated communication (CMC) offer possibilities for social support in a manner that would be less easy or even impossible in a face-to-face context. This article focuses on three key elements that are often mentioned when social consequences of CMC are discussed: the possibility to communicate relatively anonymously, the text-based character, and the opportunities it provides for expanding social networks without being hindered by time and space barriers. It addresses how these may affect support seeking, and argues that interacting in online social support groups holds great potential for people who seek support, but may also contain some potential hazards. However, even though the body of research is growing, we still know fairly little about how online social-support groups affect the well-being of people who are in need of support.

Keywords: support groups; social support; social interaction; Internet; computer-mediated communication; social networks

Article.  10714 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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