Living in a heteronormative world: LGBT forums versus LGBT Facebook groups as sources of support and well-being
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Existing research on online support groups suggests that in-group identification mediates the relationship between social support and well-being. Since anonymity is theorised to increase group salience, it was hypothesised that LGBT support forums would engender a greater level of in-group identification than LGBT Facebook groups. As no study to date had compared LGBT support groups on these platforms, the relationships between social support, in-group identification and well-being were also investigated. An online survey was completed by a sample of 114 LGBT adults. While in-group identification was found to be significantly higher on LGBT forums than on LGBT Facebook groups, no relationship was found between social support and well-being, or between in-group identification and well-being, on either platform. The characteristics of the sample may have contributed to this finding as most respondents were out offline, felt comfortable with their identity, and lived in an urban area, and thus may have been less dependent on online support. Future research might focus on a younger, more rural, cohort for whom online support may be more crucial.
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