Level of research: Level IV, Melnyk
Purpose of the authors The purpose of the authors was to investigate whether Facebook social comparison differs when examining close friends versus distant friends. They also examined self-esteem as a potential additional moderator of the Facebook social comparison process.
Information that supports a problem Facebook has become the most popular social media platform worldwide. Multiple evidences demonstrated that individuals who were exposed to superior profile pictures showed fewer positive emotions and were less satisfied with their own bodies. Additionally, there are also studies that revealed the negative effects of Facebook usage on the users well-being. The …show more content…
The participant’s age ranged from 18 to 65 years old with an average age of 32.71. Only 28 (17.2%) of the participants identified themselves as college or graduate students. 52.8% identified themselves as Hispanic, 25.8% as non-Hispanic Caucasian, 16.6% as African American, 1.2% as Asian, and 3.7% as others. Participants were asked to complete a pre-experiment questionnaire measuring self-esteem and general Facebook usage. Each participant was then randomly assigned to one of the two experimental conditions by logging onto Facebook and selecting either a distant friend or a close friend from his/her own Facebook friend list. They answered questions relevant to their friend’s name, age, years of knowing this friend, contact frequency, and relational closeness between the participants and the chosen friend. They were also asked to browse the most recent 10 original posts from the chosen friend’s Facebook timeline as they normally do and rate the valence of each post (from -3 to +3). No direction or hint was given during the experiment to remind the participants to make a social comparison with their friends. The average valence of the 10 posts was calculated in the data analysis. The higher the average valence, the more likely the comparison was upward (vice versa). Immediately after …show more content…
Additionally, a significant effect of self-esteem was found in the explicit measures of positive (p= .004) and negative emotion (p= .001). These results suggest that high self-esteem individuals claimed to have more positive emotions than negative emotions when measured explicitly. Moreover, significant two-way interaction between self-esteem and comparison valence emerged on the implicit emotion measure (p= .038). The influence of Facebook posts on emotions was more salient for high self-esteem individuals than low self-esteem individuals. The result supports the notion that low self-esteem individuals tend to protect their well-being by avoiding comparison information, whereas high self-esteem individuals tend to seek self-enhancement even at the risk of negative outcomes.
Author’s reported limitations This study had a few limitations. First, this study demonstrated the Facebook social comparison effect on momentary emotions measured immediately after viewing Facebook posts. Whether this effect can endure for long, and if it can eventually influence one’s health status is unclear. Second, even though this study adopted both implicit and explicit measures of emotion, there were biases rooted on the self-report method.