With a Little Help of My Peers. The Supportive Role of Online Contacts for the Unemployed

Christian Fieseler*, Miriam Meckel, Severina Müller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Unemployment is an unfortunate reality, whose overcoming often depends on social support, among other factors. Online social media, such as social network sites and communities, may offer an additional source of such support for unemployed people. This paper posits that online social support plays an important role in unemployed people's ability to cope with unemployment and search for new employment. The paper develops and tests a structural equation model of the influence of online-mediated, enabling and caring social support on job search self-efficacy, which may foster the job search behaviour of unemployed persons. In addition, we control for gender, age, user experience, and attitude towards the Internet. Based on 1322 telephone interviews with unemployed individuals in Germany, we find that online social support drives job search behaviour. Our results show that social support derived from new information and communication technology counteracts the adverse effect of being unemployed to a certain degree. Enabling support and caring support experienced through social media both lead to higher job search self-efficacy, which, in turn, fosters job search behaviour. Furthermore, our model shows that these relationships differ by gender, age, user experience, and attitude towards the Internet.

Original languageEnglish
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Pages (from-to)164-176
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Unemployment
  • Social media
  • Social support
  • Self-efficacy

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