What you don't know can hurt you: Social Comparison on Facebook
Advisor:Okdie, Bradley M.
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Undergraduate Research Theses; 2014
Research indicates that people can be negatively affected by upward social comparisons. An up-ward social comparison involves comparing oneself to the positive evaluation of an external stim-uli, that one perceives to be better in particular domains, and adjusting ones self-evaluation based on that comparison (Kenrick, Neuberg, & Cialdini, 2010). Upward social comparisons made online may exacerbate this effect owing to the increased avenues for selective self-presentation that most online communication offers. That is, most online venues such as Facebook allow peo-ple more opportunities to show the best side of themselves-flattering pictures or positive status updates-than the opportunities available in face-to-face interactions. The current study investigat-ed whether an awareness of other’s ability to self-present online can attenuate the negative ef-fects of upward social comparisons made on Facebook. The current study employed a 3 (Instruc-tion type: Accurate vs. Inflated vs. Control) × 2 (Social Comparison: Upward vs. Downward) between-participants design. Participants in the Inflated Instruction condition, were informed that people self-present on Facebook while those in the Accurate Instruction condition were in-formed that self-presentation on Facebook is unlikely. An additional control condition did not include self-presentation information. Participants then rated a fictitious Facebook profile intend-ed to induce either an upward or downward social comparison. Personal information—social re-lationships, monetary potential and intelligence—in the Facebook profiles was manipulated to emphasize a positive or neutral profile to induce the intended social comparison. After viewing the profile, all dependent measures including: state self-esteem, perceived fairness of life, and evaluations of the target and the subject were assessed. We hypothesized that participants aware that others are likely to self-present online will report greater positivity about themselves on all dependent measures than participants who are informed that self-presentation online is unlikely or who are given no information about online self-presentation. We do not expect to find a sig-nificant difference between participants who were informed that self-presentation is unlikely online and participants not given any self-presentation information. Making an upward social comparison on Facebook can lead to negative self-views in several domains including intelli-gence. The current study is one of the first studies to experimentally manipulate social compari-son processes on Facebook and therefore shed light on how social comparison processes operate in online environments.
Academic Major: Psychology
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