The game theoretical and experimental literature has found ample support for the hypothesis that “face-to-face communication in presence” increases trust and trustworthiness (crucial components of social capital) and, with them, the likelihood of cooperative solutions in social dilemmas. We argue that web exposure increases the share of non-face-to-face relationships that are poorer in terms of creation of interpersonal social capital. We find support for our theoretical hypothesis with an empirical analysis on the European Social Survey since the average time daily spent on the web negatively and significantly affects interpersonal trust. The effect is nonlinear and stronger for women, for the low educated, and for individuals with poorer relational life.
trust; trustworthiness; web use; social capital