European Journal of Information Systems

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 447–464 | Cite as

Giving too much social support: social overload on social networking sites

  • Christian MaierEmail author
  • Sven Laumer
  • Andreas Eckhardt
  • Tim Weitzel
Empirical Research


As the number of messages and social relationships embedded in social networking sites (SNS) increases, the amount of social information demanding a reaction from individuals increases as well. We observe that, as a consequence, SNS users feel they are giving too much social support to other SNS users. Drawing on social support theory (SST), we call this negative association with SNS usage ‘social overload’ and develop a latent variable to measure it. We then identify the theoretical antecedents and consequences of social overload and evaluate the social overload model empirically using interviews with 12 and a survey of 571 Facebook users. The results show that extent of usage, number of friends, subjective social support norms, and type of relationship (online-only vs offline friends) are factors that directly contribute to social overload while age has only an indirect effect. The psychological and behavioral consequences of social overload include feelings of SNS exhaustion by users, low levels of user satisfaction, and a high intention to reduce or even stop using SNS. The resulting theoretical implications for SST and SNS acceptance research are discussed and practical implications for organizations, SNS providers, and SNS users are drawn.


IT continuance dark side of IT negative consequence of IT usage technostress satisfaction social media 



This paper is dedicated to Ernst Maier, father of Christian Maier, who passed away on the day we submitted the revised version.


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Copyright information

© Operational Research Society 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Maier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sven Laumer
    • 1
  • Andreas Eckhardt
    • 2
  • Tim Weitzel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department for Information Systems and ServicesCentre of Human Resources Information Systems, Otto-Friedrich University of BambergGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Information Systems, Centre of Human Resources Information Systems, University of Frankfurt am MainFrankfurt

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