scales

In addition to using various validated measures in my research, my colleagues and I have developed a number of original measures over the years. As I know from personal experience, it can often be difficult to find exact information about measures when developing an instrument of your own. Therefore, this page will attempt to provide as much information about the scales my colleagues and I have developed and used in our research over the last five years.

 

Facebook Relationship Maintenance Strategies

Cite: Vitak, J. (2012). Keeping connected in the Facebook age: The relationship between facebook use, relationship maintenance strategies, and relational outcomes. Doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. [pdf]

Description: Building off existing relationship maintenance research while taking into account the affordances provided by social network sites like Facebook, participants used a pseudo-random procedure to select a Facebook Friend and indicated their level of agreement with a set of 57 relationship maintenance behaviors they performed with that contact. Exploratory factor analysis using principal components analysis with promax rotation was performed on the corpus, leading to a four-factor solution, which was confirmed via parallel analysis. The four factors are described in detail in the dissertation. All items were measured on a five-point, Likert-type scale ranging from 1=Strongly Disagree to 5=Strongly Agree and scales were created by averaging the scores for answers to each person. For the full set of items included in the original instrument, click here. Note: in this study, the sample was adult non-faculty staff at a large, public university, so these measures should be tested with other populations. This scale was later validated through data collection in 2014 with three samples (download presentation of these analyses here).

Factor 1: Supportive Communication

  • My Facebook interactions with (person’s name) are generally positive. 
  • (Person’s name) is upbeat when we interact through Facebook.
  • When I see (person’s name) sharing good news on Facebook, I’ll like his/her update.
  • I make sure to send (person’s name) a note (wall post, comment, private message, etc.) on his/her birthday.
  • I congratulate (person’s name) when he/she shares news on Facebook about something big happening in his/her life.
  • (Person’s name) always wishes me happy birthday on Facebook.
  • When I post about something good going on in my life, (person’s name) will like it.

Factor 2: Shared Interests

  • I share links with (person’s name) on Facebook.
  • (Person’s name) and I use Facebook to talk about a shared interest, sport, and/or hobby.
  • (Person’s name) and I use Facebook to coordinate events related to a shared interest, sport, and/or hobby.
  • (Person’s name) and I use Facebook to share links or videos about a celebrity or TV show we like.
  • When I see something online that I think (person’s name) would find interesting, I’ll send him/her a note about it on Facebook.
  • I’ve posted links or videos to Facebook with (person’s name) specifically in mind.
  • I share funny stories from my day with (person’s name) over Facebook.

Factor 3: Passive Consumption

  • Estimate the frequency with which you visit his/her profile page.
  • Estimate the frequency with which you browse his/her photo albums.
  • I browse through (person’s name)’s profile page to see what s/he’s been doing.
  • I browse photo albums posted in (person’s name)’s profile.

Factor 4: Social Information Seeking

  • I learn about big news in (person’s name)’s life from Facebook.
  • I use Facebook to find out things (person’s name) and I have in common.
  • I use Facebook to get to know (person’s name) better.
  • I keep up to date on (person’s name)’s day-to-day activities through Facebook.
  • (Person’s name) posts Citae: updates to Facebook about his/her day-to-day activities.

Privacy Concerns, Version 1

Cite: Vitak, J. (2012). The impact of context collapse and privacy on social network site disclosures. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 56, 451-470. doi: 10.1080/08838151.2012.732140  [pdf]

Description: Capturing users’ privacy concerns as the has been evolving since early work by Acquisti and Gross (2005). We have been evolving our measure of privacy concerns through a series of studies, including Ellison et al. (2012) [pdf] and Stutzman et al. (2012) [pdf]. In this paper, which presents a portion of the findings from a larger study, I expanded the range of privacy concerns asked participants to 10, including more general items (e.g., identity theft) as well as more site-specific concerns (e.g., private information becoming publicly visible). In addition, a set of items was included to measure concerns users may have that impact their likelihood of sharing content on the site (which was a primary RQ of the study). Exploratory factor analysis of the items revealed a three-factor solution: (1) Information Leakage Concerns included three items that tapped into users’ concerns about content being shared with unintended audiences; (2) Posting Concerns measured concerns about audience that led to altering the content and frequency of posting information to the site; and (3) Identity Theft Concerns addressed concerns about identity theft and the user’s Facebook account being hacked. The items are listed below. Items in the Information Leakage and Identity Theft scales were measured on 3-point scales ranging from 1=Not Concerned to 3=Very Concerned. Directions for these items read, “Indicate your level of concern about the following potential privacy risks that arise when you share your personal information on Facebook.” Items in the Posting Concerns scale was measured on a 5-point, Likert-type scale ranging from 1=Strongly Disagree to 5=Strongly Agree.

Information Leakage (α = .828, M = 1.69, SD = .656)

  • Private messages being posted publicly on Facebook
  • Inappropriate photos being posted publicly on Facebook
  • An employer or potential employer viewing incriminating content (text or photos)

Posting (α = .794, M = 3.22, SD = .972)

  • I am careful in what I post to Facebook because I worry about people who are not my Friends seeing it.
  • Concerns about the privacy of content posted to Facebook keep me from posting frequently.
  • Concerns about the privacy of content posted to Facebook keep me from posting personal information.

Identity Theft (α = .755, M = 1.78, SD = .621)

  • Identity Theft
  • Account being hacked

Privacy Concerns, Version 2

In more recent work, I have been focusing on more holistic measures of privacy concerns that Internet users may have. In two studies (one presented at ICA and on in progress as of March 2016), I have used a similar set of questions, which I include below.

Below are general concerns items used in a study of 665 young adult women regarding online experiences, including harassment. Items are measured on a five-point scale from 1=Not at all concerned to 5=Very concerned.

Items                                                                       

M

SD

Receiving inappropriate messages (e.g., naked photos) from another user.

2.62

1.49

Personal account information being compromised (e.g., your email and password get posted online).

3.63

1.37

Your personal information (e.g., phone number, address, etc.) becoming publicly visible.

3.66

1.33

Your picture being used in a social media ad.

3.26

1.50

Being tagged in a photo you don’t want linked to your profile.

3.45

1.25

Your account being hacked (i.e., someone takes control of your account and you can no longer access it).

3.84

1.32

Private messages becoming publicly visible.

3.57

1.41

Unwanted contact from another user.

3.25

1.36

Your employer viewing content (text or photos) that might negatively impact your job.

3.35

1.49

Someone posting a mean, unflattering, or factually incorrect update about you.

3.28

1.43

Your personal information being sold to other companies for marketing purposes.

3.53

1.36

Being tagged in an update that identifies your current physical location.

3.08

1.40

Scale (alpha = .94)

3.38

1.07

The following scale was validated through two studies of Facebook users: (1) my dissertation, which included 414 adult Facebook users, collected in 2012; and (2) a study of 1112 Internet users (Mechanical Turkers, university undergraduates and university staff), of whom 833 used Facebook. Items are measured on a five-point scale from 1=Not at all concerned to 5=Very concerned.

Citations: (1) Vitak, J. (2016, June). Balancing privacy concerns and impression management strategies on social media platforms. Paper to be presented at the International Communication Association 66th Annual Conference, Fukuoka, Japan. (2) Vitak, J. (2016). A digital path to happiness? Applying Communication Privacy Management theory to mediated interactions. In L. Reinecke & M.B. Oliver (Eds.), Handbook of media use and well-being: International perspectives on theory and research on positive media effects. New York: Routledge.

Item prompt: “Indicate your level of concern about the following things that might happen when you use Facebook.” (Five-point scale, range: Not at all Concerned to Very Concerned)

Items

M

SD

Your account being hacked.

3.44

1.41

Your picture being used in a Facebook ad.

3.07

1.52

Unwanted contact from another user.

2.84

1.37

Your account information being compromised.

3.62

1.36

Private messages becoming publicly visible.

3.33

1.46

A Facebook friend posting mean, unflattering, or factually incorrect content about you.

2.66

1.43

Being tagged in a photo you don’t want linked to your account.

3.19

1.32

Your employer viewing content (text or photos) that might negatively impact your job.

2.85

1.50

Your personal information becoming publicly visible.

3.57

1.39

Your personal information being sold to other companies for marketing purposes.

3.51

1.38

Being tagged in an update that identifies your current physical location.

2.96

1.38

Impression Management Strategies (General Online)

Citation: Vitak, J., Chadha, K., Steiner, L., & Ashktorab, Z. (2017). Identifying women’s experiences with and strategies for mitigating negative effects of online harassment. Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (pp. forthcoming). New York: ACM.

Below are general concerns items used in a study of 665 young adult women regarding online experiences, including harassment. How often do you engage in the following behaviors when interacting digitally (e.g., through social media, smartphone, messaging)? Items were measured on a five-point frequency scale, where 1=Never and 5=Very Often.

Items                                                                       

M

SD

Spend time thinking about who can see a piece of content you’re sharing.

3.34

1.02

Delete content before posting (i.e., you write it but then change your mind).

3.19

.97

Change the wording of a status update to avoid angering the recipients

2.88

1.06

Delete content you’ve already posted.

2.81

.99

Ask someone to delete content (e.g., a picture) that you don’t want online

2.22

.95

Ask someone to untag you in a post

2.24

.98

Defriended or blocked someone because they have sent you harassing messages

2.12

1.09

Defriended or blocked someone because you are offended or upset by the content they share

2.28

1.03

Decide to not post/share content to avoid receiving negative responses from friends

2.39

1.07

Decide to not post/share content to avoid receiving negative responses from strangers (e.g., on Twitter)

1.97

1.04

Shared content anonymously to prevent people from knowing you’re the source

1.76

1.25

Deleted or deactivated an account/app because of drama or harassment

1.59

.94

Scale (alpha = .85)

2.40

.62

Impression Management Strategies (Facebook-Specific)

Citation: Vitak, J. (2016). A digital path to happiness? Applying Communication Privacy Management theory to mediated interactions. In L. Reinecke & M.B. Oliver (Eds.), Handbook of media use and well-being: International perspectives on theory and research on positive media effects (pp. 274-288). New York: Routledge.

Participants were also asked about the frequency with which they engaged in 14 impression management strategies. These items were developed based on findings from previous studies (e.g., Das & Kramer, 2013, Lampinen et al., 2011; Vitak & Kim, 2014) and reflect both individual vs. collaborative strategies as well as social vs. technical strategies. Exploratory factor analysis using Varimax rotation was conducted on the 14 items; after removing three items a two-factor solution was obtained.

Item prompt: “How often do you engage in the following behaviors when using Facebook?” (Five-point scale, range: 1=Never to 5=Very Often)

M SD
Content-Based Impression Management 2.43 0.82
Spend time thinking about who can see a piece of content you’re sharing. 2.81 1.17
Delete a status update before posting. 2.63 1.10
Change the wording of a status update to avoid angering some of your Facebook friends. 2.37 1.12
Delete a status update you’ve already posted. 2.35 1.00
Delete a photo or photo album you’ve already shared. 2.19 1.06
Post a status update to a subset of your Facebook friends so that it will not be visible to a specific user or group of friends. 2.22 1.18
Network-Based Impression Management 2.54 0.82
Defriended someone because of the content they share on the site. 2.43 1.10
Defriended someone you no longer talk to. 2.61 1.12
Refuse a friend request from someone you know. 2.67 1.08
Block another Facebook user. 2.31 1.07
Hide a Facebook friend (so their posts no longer appear in your News Feed). 2.03 1.16

Online Harassment Experiences

Citation: Vitak, J., Chadha, K., Steiner, L., & Ashktorab, Z. (2017). Identifying women’s experiences with and strategies for mitigating negative effects of online harassment. Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (pp. forthcoming). New York: ACM.

Item Prompt: How often do you engage in the following behaviors when interacting digitally (e.g., through social media, smartphone, messaging)? (Five-Point Scale: 1=Never to 5=Very Often)

Items

M

SD

Weight

Received messages from someone you don’t know or barely know that threatened, insulted, or harassed you.

1.59

.94

2

Received messages from an acquaintance or friend that threatened, insulted, or harassed you.

1.47

.89

1.5

Received messages from a “significant other” (boy/ girlfriend, spouse, etc.) that threatened, insulted, or harassed you.

1.36

.82

1.5

Received messages from someone even after you told him/her to stop e-mailing you.

1.69

1.03

1.5

Had private content shared with people outside of the intended recipients.

1.44

.82

1.25

Received unwanted pornographic messages

1.66

1.03

2

Had rumors spread about you through digital media (social media, text messages, apps)

1.51

.91

1.5

Been “doxxed” (i.e., had someone post personal contact details about you online, e.g., home address or phone number)

1.11

.48

3

Had an ex-partner share private messages, videos, or images of you publicly or with other friends

1.21

.63

2.5

Been called offensive names in a public online space

1.54

.94

2

Had someone try to purposefully embarrass you

1.64

1.00

1

Scale (alpha = .88)

1.54

.58

n/a

Scale Calculation: One strategy the research team employed to identify participants who had experienced the most severe forms of online harassment was to weight the items based on potential for harm. We reviewed the items and assigned weight values ranging from 1 (lowest potential for harm) to 3 (highest potential for harm. We then created a cumulative index variable that accounted for the weight assigned to each of the 11 items.

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