Unfriending on Facebook: Friend Request and

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1 Unfriending on Facebook: Friend Request and Online/Offline Behavior Analysis Christopher Sibona Second Year Research Paper directed by Associate Professor Steven Walczak Comprehensive Exam Information Systems The Business School University of Colorado Denver

2 Contents 1 Introduction Literature Review and Background Social Networks Friendship Formation & Dissolution Computer-mediated communications Online Etiquette/Netiquette Initial Model Instrument Design Data Collection Methodology Results Friend Request Individual Factor Differences Factor Analysis Construct Creation Reliability Results A Comparison of Online and Offline Constructs and the Decision to Unfriend Final Model Generated Hypotheses Limitations Discussion and Conclusion Implications and Future Research Implications for Individual Users and Business Users Implications for Facebook Future Research

3 1 Introduction 1 Abstract Objectives: Determine the role of the friend request in unfriending decisions on the social network site Facebook.com. Find factors in unfriending decisions and find differences in the perception of online and offline behaviors that vary depending on the unfriending decision. Method: Survey research conducted online. 1,137 surveys about unfriending were analyzed using exploratory statistical techniques. Survey respondents were recruited from Twitter. Results: The research results show that the initiator of the friend request has more than their expected share of unfriends compared to those who receive the friend request. There are online and offline factors for unfriending decisions; the research identified six constructs to evaluate unfriending decisions. There are 4 constructs for online behaviors (unimportant/frequent posts, polarizing posts, inappropriate posts and everyday life posts) and 2 offline constructs (disliked behavior and changes in the relationship). Survey respondents who said they unfriended for online reasons were more likely to agree that the person posted too frequently about unimportant topics, polarizing topics, inappropriate topics and everyday life topics compared to those who unfriended for offline reasons. 1 Introduction Facebook has over 500 million active users worldwide 1 and is the most popular website in the U.S. Facebook recently overtook Google as the most visited website on March 15, 2010 according to webtracker Hitwise (Nuttal and Gelles, 2010). Research in social behavior indicates that the Internet is used to maintain existing relationships, form romantic connections, and create new online friendships (Wang et al., 2010). These online friendships are fluid; friendships are created and dissolved on social network sites. The word unfriend was named the word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary for 2009 (Goldsmith, 2009). The dictionary defined unfriend as follows: unfriend verb To remove someone as a friend on a social networking site such as Facebook. 2 Real-world friendship 1 2

4 2 Literature Review and Background 2 dissolution has been studied in a variety of contexts such as romantic relationships, marriage and divorce (Levinger, 195), interracial friendships (Hallinan and Williams, 1987), high school and college students (Owens, 2003). Unfriending on social networks is different in a number of ways than real-world friendships. Facebook has a definite marker when the friendship is dissolved by one member through the unfriend function. On a social network site one member can decide to end the relationship and will publicly remove support by unfriending that person. Friendship dissolution for online friendships (a.k.a. unfriending) is under-researched. There are two major research questions that this study addresses. 1. What is the role of the friend request in unfriending decisions. 2. Can factors in unfriending decisions be found and do differences in the perception of online and offline behaviors vary depending on the unfriending decision. 2 Literature Review and Background 2.1 Social Networks boyd and Ellison (2007) defined social network sites based on three system capabilities. The systems: allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (boyd and Ellison, 2007, p. 1). After users join a site they are asked to identify others in the network with whom they have an existing relationship. The links that are generated between individuals become visible to others in the local subspace. There are general social network sites (Facebook) and others that are content focused. Social network site MySpace has a large musical component and links musicians and musical groups to their fans, LinkedIn is a network of professional contacts and YouTube connects people who are interested in video content (boyd and Ellison, 2007). Facebook, which is focused on real friends (Ellison et al., 2007), is now believed to be the largest social network site (Raphael,

5 2 Literature Review and Background ). Research on social network sites and on Facebook in particular cover a variety areas. Research interests include identity management (Hewitt and Forte, 2006), trust (Dwyer et al., 2007), self-presentation (Stutzman, 2006), surveillance and privacy concerns (Gross and Acquisti, 2005), social capital (Ellison et al., 2007). Much of the academic research on Facebook has focused on identity presentation and privacy concerns (Ellison et al., 2007). 2.2 Friendship Formation & Dissolution Friendships are formed and maintained because they are rewarding to individuals (Wright, 1984). Friendship models have been developed to describe how friendships are created (Hallinan, 1979). Friendships tend to be formed by people who share certain similarities (such as values) (Lea and Duck, 1982; McPherson et al., 2001). People tend to create friendships with those who share a similar race and ethnicity followed by age, religion, education, occupation and gender and roughly in that order (McPherson et al., 2001). The largest portion of friendships that are formed with those who are not family members are through organizational structures (McPherson et al., 2001). Schools, work, and geographic location are major factors in how relationships are formed. Hallinan describes the process of friendship formation as a sequential process having four elements. First, P must desire to have O as a friend (attraction). Second, P must initiate a move to establish a friendship with O. Third, O must recognize P s overture of friendship. Fourth, O must reciprocate P s offer of friendship (Hallinan, 1979, p. 194). The initiator of the friendship request tends to have lower status than the recipient (Hallinan, 1979). Friendship formation in the real world has more nuance than in the online world. The initiator of the friend request may communicate the desire to be friends with varying degrees of directness (Hallinan, 1979). Those who initiate the friendship in less direct ways can avoid embarrassment and rejection should the request not be accepted. The online world (on a site like Facebook) lacks this nuance and makes it very clear that one person requests the other s friendship through the

6 2 Literature Review and Background 4 visible friend request. On Facebook one person initiates a friend request and another person receives the request. The request for friendship is easily identified in the online world because there is a marker for that request. The receiver can choose to accept the friendship request or choose to ignore the request. If the receiver accepts the request then the two become friends on Facebook. Social network sites use different terms for the relationship; Facebook uses the term friends but others use the term contacts, fans, or follower (boyd and Ellison, 2007). Visible virtual links are generated between the dyad s online identities. The online friendship process mirrors friendship formation in the real world with the addition of markers like the visible request and visible link connecting the dyad. Friendship dissolution is not the same process of friendship formation in reverse and is distinctly different (Duck, 1982). Some friendships end in conflict but most simply fade away (Sprecher and Fehr, 1998). Friendships do not require the other person s permission to end the relationship in either the online or offline world (Baxter, 1979). You need permission to be someone s friend on Facebook; however, no permission is needed to end the relationship. One person can simply choose to unfriend the other person. In most cases the person who was unfriended does not receive notification that they have been unfriended. There are applications available on Facebook, such as unfriend finder, that notify users when they are unfriended. 3 There are both internal and external barriers to friendship dissolution (Bushman and Holt- Lundstad, 2009). External barriers are those that originate outside the individual and make the person feel as though the relationship must be maintained. External barriers include social (church, family), financial ties, and physical proximity (coworkers, neighbors, etc.). Internal barriers are endogenous and drive the person to maintain the relationship and include religious beliefs, selfidentity (sociability) or a personal sense of commitment. Online social networks, with their visible links between members, may make it difficult to end a relationship. Unlike real world relationships that may simply fade without either member 3

7 2 Literature Review and Background 5 making a conscious decision about the dissolution, online unfriending is a conscious and public decision. Researcher Steve Duck calls the public declaration of the end of a relationship in the real world grave dressing (Duck, 1982). In Facebook the unfriending can be a signal to others in the network that the particular relationship is over because the links between members are visible. Others in the network who share links with the dyad can notice that a link previously present has been removed. 2.3 Computer-mediated communications Computer-mediated communications have been researched to determine how reduced cues impact online interactions (Haythornwaite, 2002). Online posts provide different cues than face-to-face conversations. Walther (1996) examined seemingly contradictory views of online communication when he classified communication as impersonal, interpersonal or hyperpersonal. Computer operators, who were early users of online communication systems, initially sent simple messages to each other to coordinate tasks. When these messages were examined, researchers found that the messages reduced interpersonal affect and group solidarity and were more task oriented than face-to-face meetings (Walther, 1996). Researchers noticed that as users of computer-mediated communication systems used these systems over time and in different contexts that the communication grew more interpersonal. The messages contained less social information than face-to-face meetings, as they lacked nonverbal cues, but over time the users generated additional methods to help decipher the interpersonal cues. As users had increased expectations of future online interactions through computer messages they attempted to learn more about the person with whom they were communicating. These communications tended to be more interpersonal than the computer operator messages because they were expected to continue in the future vs. the single task-oriented messages. As computer usage has evolved to include more recreational interactions (games, chat, etc.) the level of affect can exceed levels found in face-to-face interactions and may be classified as

8 2 Literature Review and Background 6 hyperpersonal (Walther, 1996). Users of these systems can develop stereotypical impressions of their online partners because certain social information is not present. Receivers of online messages will fill in the missing details themselves by creating a more complete but distorted version of the sender. Online communications users can selectively present the information that they wish to reveal (Walther, 1992; Riva, 2001). User are allowed more time in which to generate a response to a message and thus may respond more deliberately. The receiver of these messages can create such complete and idealized images of the person with whom they communicate that when they meet in real life they can feel disappointment that the realized person did not meet their imagined expectations (Grimes, 1992). Haythornwaite (2002) ties these three communications mechanisms by examining the strength of the tie between the dyad. When the ties are weak, as in the computer operators sending messages about the systems, then the dyad tends to be more dependent on organizationally established means of communication. When the ties are strong communicators will influence each other and adapt the system for additional uses. Strong communicators can expand their use of the systems beyond the original context or work towards its dissolution if they feel it impedes their communication. When ties between the dyad are weak and new forms of communication are introduced then the dyad is susceptible to dissolution. Weakly tied communicators tend to be more passive in their use, less likely to resist, and more accepting of mandated technologies. People tend to have complex views about new communication technologies as they are adopted; some are skeptical of the technology while others embrace it (Baym, 2010). Some believe that the new technology devalues face-to-face communication and express concern that communication will grow increasingly shallow. Others will embrace the technology and tout its benefits to create stronger relationships and new opportunities to interact with new people. As the technology is adopted by greater numbers, people see the the pros and cons of new media and accept it for what it provides. Baym (2010) discusses how concerns about the adoption of new technologies have persisted through centuries; technologies such as the telegraph, telephone, , instant messaging, mobile phones and today s Internet have raised concern among users and have been accepted

9 2 Literature Review and Background 7 by society to a large degree. New communication technologies, such as online social networks, are expected to be influenced by existing communication mechanisms and be adapted to fit the specific context as users gain experience with the technology over time (Yates and Orlikowski, 1992). Most online interactions tend to be between people who have met face-to-face or talked on the telephone and not with random strangers who have met online (Baym et al., 2004). Relationships can be maintained through multiple media channels and generally do not require only one channel for communication. Baym et al. (2004) also argues that there is no inherent trade-off between more traditional high-quality communication mechanisms such as face-to-face conversation and interactions on the Internet that may be considered more superficial. The Internet is not a distinctly separate space from offline interactions where individuals in one space can not interact with those in the other space. The reality is that people no longer discuss how the telephone has negatively impacted real-life relationships and lessened the value of face-to-face communication. The telephone is embraced as a communication tool for which certain messages are appropriate. There are those who believe there is a danger that online communication will hurt real-life relationships (Bernstein, 2009). If Baym s communication channels are extended to include social network sites such as Facebook then it is likely that as adoption increases, becomes pervasive and routinized that social network site users will be able to appropriately determine which messages are best suited for these social networks. Social network sites will be valued as an appropriate channel for some messages while other channels will be valued for other messages. 2.4 Online Etiquette/Netiquette There are often rules that govern what can be posted in a given Internet-based forum. These rules can be both formal and informal. Formal rules are written and explicitly identify speech that is considered acceptable and unacceptable. Informal rules place normative barriers to certain behaviors; approximately 15% of all messages in Usenet forums are considered conduct-correcting (Smith et al., 1997). Forums can have specific rules about acceptable posting behavior and can control

10 2 Literature Review and Background 8 the content of the forum through the use of moderating practices (Chua, 2009). Designated forum moderators can screen, reject and remove messages that violate a forum s posting policy. There are trade-offs between the use of moderators to control the types of messages that can be posted to forums. Moderators can increase the percentage of on-topic posts compared to unmoderated forums by screening posts that are off-topic or otherwise problematic (Chua, 2009). Moderated forums can increase the sense of collective identity by keeping a community on-topic. Moderated forums can also reduce the free interchange of ideas and silence speech in forums where multiple groups with separate identities may wish to discuss a topic of overlapping interest (Chua, 2009). There can be trade-offs between a stronger community identity and the free exchange of ideas and forums will value these trade-offs differently. Moving a forum from an unmoderated policy to a moderated policy is considered a final step after normative measures fail to curtail unwanted behavior (Blanchard, 2004). Facebook has formal rules which govern posting behavior 4 and allows users to act as the moderator for their personal Wall. The rules include prohibitions against certain commercial speech (spam and multi-level marketing), content, illegal activity, and bullying behavior. Prohibited content includes that which is: hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence. The legal prohibitions include speech that is: unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory. Behavior that is directed toward an individual which is used to: bully, intimidate, or harass any user is prohibited. Facebook says that, The Wall is the center of your profile for adding new things, like photos, videos, notes and other application content. 5 Facebook users can can act as the moderator to the messages that others post on their personal wall. 6 Users can restrict whether others can post on their wall through privacy settings and remove offending posts. Facebook currently does not provide the ability to review posts before they are posted to the Wall. Facebook provides similar tools that are available to forum moderators; Facebook users can remove offensive posts from their wall and remove the individual completely

11 3 Initial Model 9 from the local subspace by choosing to unfriend the person. 3 Initial Model An initial model was developed to examine online and offline reasons for unfriending (Figure 1 on page 12). The questions were developed from a variety of sources. Literature review included a variety of communications based research articles about conversation, friendship and dissolution (Oliver, 1961; Owens, 2003; Bushman and Holt-Lundstad, 2009; Parks and Floyd, 1996; McPherson et al., 2001; Hartup and Stevens, 1999; Riva, 2001; Sternberg, 2000). The popular press has written numerous articles about unfriending e.g.: Boston Globe (2009) To Unfriend or Not To Unfriend, 7 Bloomington Pantagraph (2009): In the world of Facebook, it s OK to unfriend some people, 8 Cosmopolitan (undated) 10 Signs You Should Unfriend Someone on Facebook. 9 Blogs also offer advice on who to unfriend e.g.: From Mashable: 12 Great Tales of De-friending, 10 from Gawker: The Eight Types of People to unfollow on Twitter or Defriend on Facebook, 11 from The Frisky: 8 Signs You Should Unfriend Someone on Facebook, 12 from associatedcontent: When should you Unfriend Someone on Facebook 13, Timesunion.com (2010) 7 reasons to unfriend someone on Facebook. 14 The survey questions were designed through literature review and informal interviews with a variety of Facebook users to determine the types of friends who they unfriended and online posting behavior. Open ended questions were asked of 10 Facebook users to determine what kinds of 7 unfriend.html 8 html or-defriend-on-facebook 12 -facebook/ 13 someone_on.html 14

12 4 Instrument Design 10 people they have friended and unfriended, what kinds of posts they see on Facebook, how they were affected by an unfriending, have they unfriended someone on Facebook, and, if so, why. The researchers also asked what kinds of posts for which they may have unfriended. This stage of question development focused solely on online reasons for unfriending. A question was posted on an internet forum (beginner triathlete) that asked for reasons why forum users believed they were unfriended and forum users unfriended others. 56 responses were received from the forum to validate online and offline reasons for unfriending. After an initial survey was developed, five people were asked questions orally by the researchers to determine appropriateness and completeness. The online survey was pretested by six Facebook users to determine whether there would be difficulty completing the survey, survey length, completeness, etc. Twenty one questions were developed to examine online reasons for unfriending and twelve questions for offline reasons - see Table 1. and Table 2.. The questions are grouped into subgroups based on relational factors and interpretation. The online questions are grouped into three groups: posting frequency, inflammatory topics and banal topics. The offline questions are grouped into two subgroups: disliked behavior/personality and changes in the relationship to reflect offline reasons for unfriending. Exploratory factor analysis will be used in the study to determine appropriate constructs and a final model will be developed. 4 Instrument Design The survey was conducted solely on the Internet using a commercially available survey tool. The survey questions are a combination of established questions from previous studies and new questions to examine friendship dissolution in online settings plus demographic questions. The survey opens with a cover letter to introduce the survey using the Total Design Method by Dillman (1978).

13 4 Instrument Design 11 Table 1. : Online Questions and Sources Question Source Frequency Interview, Oliver, 1961, Boston Globe, Gawker Politics Interview, Oliver, 1961; McPherson et al., 2001; Chua, 2009; Gilbert and Karahalios, 2009, Mashable, The Frisky Religion Interview, Oliver (1961); McPherson et al. (2001); Chua (2009), Gawker, The Frisky Sex Mashable, Times Union, Gawker Money Owens (2003) Unflattering Interview, Oliver (1961); Chua (2009), Mashable, associated content Racist Interview, Chua (2009); Nielsen (2002), Facebook Policy on hate speech Sexist Nielsen (2002) Swearing Interview, Oliver, 1961; Riva, 2001 Inappropriately Interview, Oliver (1961); Riva (2001), associated content, Gawker, The Frisky Unimportant Interview, Oliver (1961); Chua (2009), Cosmopolitan, Gawker Eating Habits Interview, Randaza, 2009, Cosmopolitan, Times Union Exercise Habits Randaza, 2009, Cosmopolitan, Times Union Sports Scores Interview, Mashable Celebrities Randaza, 2009 Purchases Randaza, 2009 Promotion Interview, Riva (2001); Randaza (2009), Mashable, Times Union, The Frisky Job Oliver (1961), Times Union, Mashable Child Interview, Cosmopolitan Spouse Interview Pets Interview

14 4 Instrument Design 12 Fig. 1: Initial Model

15 4 Instrument Design 13 Table 2. : Offline Questions and Sources Question Source Did Misdeed Metts (1994) Dislike Owens (2003); Sprecher and Fehr (1998) Behavior Owens (2003); McPherson et al. (2001); Metts (1994) Betray Sprecher and Fehr (1998); Metts (1994) Broke Rule Metts (1994) Personality Owens (2003) Trust Owens (2003); Metts (1994), associated content New Information Sprecher and Fehr (1998); Metts (1994) Incompatible Owens (2003); Sprecher and Fehr (1998), associated content Friends Geography Owens (2003); Sprecher and Fehr (1998); McPherson et al. (2001) Divorce Sprecher and Fehr (1998); Metts (1994) Romantic End Sprecher and Fehr (1998); Metts (1994) The survey screens users to determine if the person is over 18 and a Facebook user. The survey was approved by the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board at the University of Colorado Denver (protocol # ). The survey is divided into four sections. Part one of the survey asks whether the survey respondent has unfriended someone on Facebook, and, if so, asks questions about that unfriending. Part two of the survey asks whether the survey respondent has ever been unfriended on Facebook, and, if so, asks questions about that unfriending. Part three of the survey asks questions about Facebook usage, and part four asks demographic questions. The behavioral sections used 7-point Likert-type questions and were presented in a randomized order. Demographic questions and categorical questions were multiple choice. The survey was designed to take approximately fifteen minutes to complete. The path through the survey depended on answers to the questions. For example, if the respondent said they have never unfriended a person the survey tool would advance to the next section. Part one of the survey asked questions about the type of person unfriended, whether it was for online or offline behavior, questions about the friendship and questions about online and offline behavior. Part two mirrors part one of the survey and asks questions about the type of person who

16 5 Data Collection 14 unfriended the survey respondent, their perception of whether it was for online or offline behavior, questions about the friendship and questions about their offline behavior. Part two adds additional questions to part one to determine how the survey respondent was affected by the unfriending. Part three asks questions about how many friends the survey respondent has, how many people they have unfriended, how many people they regularly interact with, and questions about their online posting behavior. Part three also asks questions about satisfaction, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of Facebook. Part four asks demographic questions: age, gender, education, the number of years of social network use and whether the person lives in the United States of America. The questions about online and offline behavior are largely exploratory. Components were not identified during the survey design and factor analysis would later partition the data into meaningful subgroups. 5 Data Collection Survey respondents were recruited from Twitter. Twitter respondents were gathered by screening tweets that had the term unfriend, defriend, or unfriending. Tweet messages, known as tweets, that met a screening criteria were sent replies inviting the person to take the survey about unfriending. Tweets that were not considered for the study include: non-english tweets, unfriending tweets that were not about people but about something else (TV shows, politicians, states, etc.), tweets about news articles about unfriending, tweets that appeared to be jokes (some that specifically included LOL), inflammatory tweets, and some short tweets that just included the word unfriend. Tweets were only sent to people who were writing about unfriending in English. That is, there are tweets that were written in a different language (e.g. German) with the English word unfriend in it and that person would not receive a reply asking them to take the survey. Occasionally the tweet reply was retweeted by those who received the initial tweet. The sample did not seek out expert opinions on social network sites because those responses might be biased.

17 6 Methodology 15 There is not a random sample in this research; a convenience sampling method was used to recruit participants. Surveys were collected between April 17th and July 17, A total of 2,084 surveys were started and 1,137 were completed. A total of 4,961 recruitment tweets were sent to Twitter users during the recruitment period. 54.6% of those who started the survey completed the survey and the mortality rate was 45.4%. The response rate for those who completed the survey is 22.9% (1,137/4,961). The overall response rate, that is people who came to the survey and started the survey, is 42.0% (2,084/4,961). The total number of tweets sent from the recruitment account is 6,935. The tweets that were sent beyond the 4,961 tweets were responses to questions about the survey, responses to thanks, questions about whether this account was a bot, etc. 71.5% of the the tweets were sent were the recruitment tweet. The Twitter account created, UnfriendStudy, was only used for the purpose of this study. The analysis uses all the data collected and is not limited to completed surveys only. 6 Methodology The raw data was collected from a commercially available survey tool (Survey Monkey) and analyzed with SPSS version 18. The survey is largely exploratory and used methods such as factor analysis to find commonalities among the questions asked. Factor analysis was used to partition questions into meaningful groups. Constructs were then generated based on the factor analysis and interpretation of the results and Cronbach s alpha measure of reliability was calculated. Crosstabulation techniques was used to determine the differences in actual frequencies vs. expected frequencies between different groups (for example those who unfriend for online vs. offline behavior) and determine the role of the friend request in unfriending decisions (the first research question). MANCOVA was used to determine whether survey takers had higher levels of agreement about posting topics or offline behavior based on their reason to unfriend (online vs. offline) which is the second research question.

18 6 Methodology 16 The constructs unimportant/frequent posts, polarizing posts, inappropriate posts, and everyday life were generated and used to examine online posting behavior. The constructs disliked behavior and change were generated and used to examine offline behavior. MANCOVA was used to determine the difference in the online and offline constructs based on the person s unfriending decision (online vs offline). Statistical tool selection is based on the appropriateness to the model and unit of analysis. MANOVA is used to analyze multiple dependent variables that are correlated with each other in a low to moderate level (Leech et al., 2008). Cross-tabulation techniques are used to calculate the expected frequency in a cell and compare the expected cell count to the actual cell count found in the data (Joseph F. Hair et al., 2006). MANCOVA is used to adjust for difference between the groups based on another typically interval-level variable called the covariate (Leech et al., 2008). The analysis uses unfriending decision (online vs. offline) as an independent variable in this analysis. The data in this analysis is about unfriendings that have occurred and does not try to generate a probability function for a future potential unfriending. That is, this research does not attempt to define a probability function to determine whether the dyad will remain friends in the future; this research only captures unfriendings that have already occurred. 84.0% of survey respondents could identify whether they unfriended a person for online or offline reasons with the rest unsure. The analysis presumes that the unfriending decision reflects why someone choose to unfriend the person. If differences are seen between the constructs for the online and offline behaviors (dependent variables) and the decision to unfriend (independent variable) then it is likely that those constructs are relevant in actual unfriending decisions and provide a basis of comparison. The results are most informative when the survey respondent said they unfriended someone for online reasons and differences are seen in the online posting behaviors compared to those who selected offline reasons or in factors where no differences are found. The decision to unfriend is an independent variable in the MANCOVA analysis. Exploratory methods and interpretation of the results can lead to subsequent hypothesis generation that can be confirmed or disproved by additional data collection (Joreskog, 1969). If con-

19 7 Results 17 firmatory methods are to be employed on a single data set then the dataset should be randomly divided into two sets: one set to generate the hypotheses and the other to confirm or disprove the hypotheses (Joreskog, 1969). Confirmatory research starts with a set of a priori hypotheses about a topic, develops a research design to test the hypotheses, data collection and analysis of the data (Jaeger and Halliday, 1998). Exploratory methods can be used to generate hypotheses which can be subsequently tested using confirmatory methods (Jaeger and Halliday, 1998). The goal of exploratory research is to gain new insights into a phenomenon and develop testable hypotheses. 7 Results 7.1 Friend Request Friend requests were analyzed to determine if there were differences in unfriending behavior based on who initiated the friend request. A total of 1553 friend requests were analyzed based on the survey respondent s decision to unfriend someone and the survey respondent s own unfriending. The survey respondent was asked to indicate who initiated the friend request in both their own decision to unfriend a person and an unfriending that happened to them. The survey included three choices, I asked this person to be my friend, This person asked me to be their friend, and I don t remember who asked. The results show that statistically significant differences in the expected and actual cell counts exist. The Chi-square test was 55.9 with 5 degrees of freedom; the two-tailed significance is.0001 which indicates that there are differences in unfriending behavior based on friend requests. The results are show in Table 3. There are three findings:

20 7 Results Survey respondents were more certain of who initiated the request when they did the unfriending compared to survey respondents who were being unfriended. The don t knows in the table are greater than expected when the survey respondent was unfriended by someone compared to when the survey respondent chose to unfriend someone. 2. Survey respondents who initiate the friend request are unfriended more often than expected. The number of unfriended by when the survey respondent initiates is greater than the expected count. 3. Survey respondents who receive the friend request make more than the expected number of unfriend decisions. The number of unfriend decisions when the other person initiated the friend request is greater than the expected count. Table 3. : Friend Request I initiated Other initiated DK Total Unfriend Decision Expected Unfriended By Expected Individual Factor Differences The individual factors were analyzed to determine how many people agreed with the statement about the person they unfriended and are shown in descending order by online or offline factors in Table 4. The individual factors for overall agree were analyzed using frequency statistics. The individual factors for online and offline factors were analyzed using cross-tabulations on the questions to determine if there are differences depending on whether an online or offline reason was

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