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You Don’t Know Me But Can I Be Your Friend? Accepting Strangers as Friends in Facebook

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Document pages: 22 pages

Abstract: Users in social networking sites, such as Facebook, are increasingly receivingfriend requests from strangers. This study examines the effects of the Big Fivepersonality traits (Neurotics vs. Extroversion vs. Openness vs. Conscientiousnessvs. Agreeableness) and strangers’ gender in affecting Facebook users’decisions to accept (or ignore) the stranger’s friend request. Resultsshowed that gender of the stranger and the personality match between participantand stranger jointly affect the decision to accept the stranger as friendon Facebook. Most of the participants accepted the stranger’s friend requestbased on textual cues that were displayed in the friend request message. Thisfinding supported Social Information Processing theory, suggesting that impressionformation of the stranger was not constrained to the lack of nonverbalcues online. Moreover, participants were more likely to accept the stranger’sfriend request when the participant’s and stranger’s personalitiesmatched. This effect was more pronounced when the stranger was a female.Participants accepted female stranger’s friend request due to the inflated perceptionof stereotypical female characteristics, which supports the HyperpersonalPerspective.

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