International Journal of Internet Science

A peer reviewed open access journal for empirical findings, methodology, and theory of social and behavioral science concerning the Internet and its implications for individuals, social groups, organizations, and society.

Volume 8, Issue 1 (2013)

Social Capital and Pro-Social Behavior Online and Offline
Constantin M. Bosancianu1, Steve Powell2, & Esad Bratović2
1Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 2proMENTE Social Research, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Abstract: Pro-social behavior, one of the defining characteristics of humans as social beings, plays a vital role in maintaining social bonds and in making social transactions possible. The questions which drive this study are whether there is any association between pro-social behavior or social capital online and offline, and whether we can see different patterns of effects of pro-social behavior on social capital online and offline. Using data obtained through an online survey of 1912 Internet users in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, this study finds that pro-social behavior online and offline are closely related, as are social capital online and offline. In terms of the effects of pro-social behavior, however, we find that whereas online behavior has a stronger impact on online social capital than on offline social capital, the reverse does not hold: offline pro-social behavior has roughly the same impact on both types of social capital. Finally, online pro-social behavior is associated with a greater level of bridging offline social capital, suggesting positive spill-over effects from online acts of kindness. Our results inform future studies that wish to focus on pro-social behavior regarding the dual spheres in which it is present, as well as about the limited cross-over effects that exist between the two.

Keywords: Pro-social behavior, offline, online, social capital, community

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