Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Jaime Banks

Committee Co-Chair

Nicholas D Bowman

Committee Member

Matthew M Martin


In everyday life, people are typically connected to others, and these variably strong connections facilitate social influence related to a range of phenomena, from shaping body image and, impacting self-esteem to shaping behaviors through exhibiting social norms. Although the strongest ties (those most intimate and influential) can be very important to a person, there can also be a fear of judgement (i.e., evaluation apprehension) in those relationships. In online social networks, the relationship between tie strength and evaluation apprehension may emerge differently than in offline spaces due to affordances of social media, the asynchronous nature of computer-mediated communication, and the networked audience on social media; the potential influences of discrete ties may be additive because groups of strong ties may also exert a similar normative influence. In order to explore the possible links between evaluation apprehension and online social network structures (i.e., cumulative tie strength and network density), a study was conducted in which participants ( N = 96) first completed an initial online survey (assessing online evaluation apprehension and demographics), then viewed an in-lab visualization of their Twitter network (to capture social network structure characteristics), and finally completed a second survey (to capture network use habits). Analysis revealed associations between evaluation apprehension and tie strength as well as evaluation apprehension and network density with a moderate effect size. Results are interpreted to suggest that evaluation apprehension may be digitally contextual, predictors of tie strength may serve as affirmation, social network features may influence evaluation apprehension, and digital social networks may function as a conglomerate discipline-mechanism similar to that of the panopticon.