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Social media overload, gender differences and knowledge withholding

Dongming Wu (Economics and Management School, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)
Junjun Zheng (Economics and Management School, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 2 September 2021

Issue publication date: 17 January 2023




Drawing on the stress and coping theory, conservation of resources (COR) theory and social role theory, this study aims to investigate the impact of social media overload on knowledge withholding behavior and examine the gender differences in social media overload, engendering knowledge withholding.


By hiring a professional online survey company, this study collected valid responses from 325 general social media users. The structural equation modeling (SEM) technique, bootstrapping method and multi-group analysis were used to test the proposed theoretical model.


The empirical results reveal that three types of social media overload positively affect users' knowledge withholding behavior and that emotional exhaustion significantly mediates the above relationships. The multi-group analysis demonstrates that gender differences do exist in the decision-making process of knowledge withholding; for example, females are more likely than males to become emotionally exhausted from social media overload, while males are more likely than females to engage in knowledge withholding behavior in the case of emotional exhaustion.


This study contributes to the existing body of knowledge by examining the relationship between social media overload and knowledge withholding, verifying the mediating role of emotional exhaustion as the key mechanism linking them, and narrowing the research gap of lacking gender differences research in knowledge withholding literature.



The authors are very grateful to the editor, professor, Gandolfo Dominici, and the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on improving the quality of this paper.

Funding: This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (project no. 72171180 and 71771181).


Wu, D. and Zheng, J. (2023), "Social media overload, gender differences and knowledge withholding", Kybernetes, Vol. 52 No. 1, pp. 24-43.



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