Social networking sites (SNSs) can be beneficial tools for users to gain social capital. Although social capital consists of emotional and informational resources accumulated through interactions with strong or weak social network ties, the existing literature largely ignores attachment style in this context. This study employed attachment theory to explore individuals' attachment orientations toward Facebook usage and toward online and offline social capital. A university student sample (study 1) and a representative national sample (study 2) showed consistent results. Secure attachment was positively associated with online bonding and bridging capital and offline bridging capital. Additionally, secure attachment had an indirect effect on all capital through Facebook time. Avoidant attachment was negatively associated with online bonding capital. Anxious-ambivalent attachment had a direct association with online bonding capital and an indirect effect on all capital through Facebook. Interaction frequency with good friends on Facebook positively predicted all online and offline capital, whereas interaction frequency with average friends on Facebook positively predicted online bridging capital. Interaction frequency with acquaintances on Facebook was negatively associated with offline bonding capital. The study concludes that attachment style is a significant factor in guiding social orientation toward Facebook connections with different ties and influences online social capital. The study extends attachment theory among university students to a national sample to provide more generalizable evidence for the current literature. Additionally, this study extends attachment theory to the SNS setting with a nuanced examination of types of Facebook friends after controlling extraversion. Implications for future research are discussed.
CyberPsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Vol.18, No.3, pp.173-180