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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Antonia Abbey


Capitalization is the process of sharing a personal positive experience with others. Capitalization and perceived capitalization responsiveness are known to be associated with a host of positive outcomes (Gable & Reis, 2010; Peters, Reis, & Gable, 2018), but effects have been largely ignored outside of close relationships and within the realm of social media. This dissertation examined the effects of capitalization support on subjective well-being within the context of online social media platforms across two studies. The proposed studies utilized correlational, experimental, and qualitative methodologies to identify a specific type of online behavior (i.e., capitalization) that can support subjective well-being and to compare these effects with those derived from face-to-face capitalization experiences. In Study 1, 600 participants completed a variety of online questionnaires assessing their typical Facebook capitalization tendencies, perceived capitalization responsiveness on Facebook, and several measures of subjective well-being. In Study 2, 271 participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions (thinking about a positive event vs. capitalization with a close other vs. capitalization on social media vs. neutral control). Following the manipulation, participants completed a variety of measures of need fulfillment and subjective well-being and responded to open-ended prompts about their capitalization experiences. The results provided mixed support for hypotheses. In Study 1, hypotheses were supported such that individuals who capitalized more on Facebook and perceived their Facebook friends to be responsive to their online capitalization attempts also reported greater well-being. Similarly, in Study 2, perceived capitalization responsiveness was associated with greater need fulfillment, which in turn predicted greater subjective well-being. The qualitative data also provided evidence that capitalization on social media platforms can promote well-being. However, the capitalization manipulation did not conform to hypotheses; there were no differences in well-being between capitalization recall conditions. This work has important implications for future research and for informing the way users choose to engage with others in their online social networks.

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