Conference Contribution Details
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Murphy, M., Hennessy, E., O'Sullivan, D. & Di Blasi, Z.
Psychological Society of Ireland Annual Conference
Direct and Stress-Buffering Effects of Social Support: Real and Virtual?
Cork, Ireland
Oral Presentation
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Objective: Perceived social support (PSS) has consistently been found to predict lower depression scores. Its impact has largely been explained with reference to direct effects and stress-buffering. The increasing popularity of social networking and related phenomena raises the issue of the value of online PSS.  This study assessed the impact of online PSS on depression scores, in terms of both direct effects and stress buffering, while controlling for offline PSS.

Methods: A cross-sectional, survey style design was employed. Data from 460 undergraduate students were gathered online. Measures included the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support and the Short Depression-Happiness Scale.

Results: Both a direct effect and a stress-buffering effect of online PSS were identified, when controlling for offline PSS, sex, age, neuroticism, extraversion and stress.

Conclusions: In this sample online PSS contributed to lower depression scores, over and above the impact of offline PSS. This suggests that online relationships can contribute meaningfully to psychological well-being.