Published on March 11, 2014
Effects of Facebook Friend Profile Viewing on Self-Esteem Holly Slang North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University
When we see a very popular person on Facebook, how do we react?
Does our reaction change from when we see 2,602 friends…
… to 49 friends?
Research Questions What effect does viewing other people’s profiles, of varying degrees of popularity, have on self-esteem? o How does this impact happiness and our personal perceived popularity? Does the context in which we view the profile matter? o Could there be a difference between a comparative vs. an associative context?
Previous Literature • Viewing one’s own Facebook profile increases self- esteem (Gonzales and Hancock, 2011). • There is strong negative correlation between trait self-esteem and Facebook usage (Mehdizadeh, 2010). • We perceive that others are happier than we are online (Chou and Edge, 2012).
Methods – Experiment One • Survey o N = 242 (Mage=27.3, SD=8.1, 65% Male) o Amazon Mechanical Turk Services Do you use Facebook? Assign Condition Conditions 2, 3, 4 view other’s profile and answer questions about that profile and a behavioral measure Personal Assessment Condition 1 (Self) views own profile and answers questions about own profile
Conditions Condition 1 - Self Condition 2 - Fewer Condition 3 - Equal Condition 4 - More
Dependent Variables • Self-Esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale) • Happiness • Popularity • Behavioral Measure
Self-Esteem • Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale o 10-item Likert scale
Happiness and Popularity
Behavioral Measure: Intention of Post
Results: Self vs. Other • Participants who looked at another profile reported higher happiness than participants who looked at their own (p = .06). • There was no effect in regards to popularity. • Participants who looked at their own profile reported higher self-esteem (p = .31) than participants who looked at another profile.
2.8 2.85 2.9 2.95 3 3.05 3.1 Self Fewer Equal More Self-Esteem Results: Across Four Conditions F(3,237)=1.19, p= .32 Participants had the lowest self-esteem after viewing the profile of someone who was more popular. They felt best after viewing their own profile, which is consistent with previous research (Gonzales and Hancock, 2011).
3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 4 Self Fewer Equal More Popularity Results: Across Four Conditions F(3,236)=1.03, p= .38 Participants perceived themselves to be most popular after viewing the profile of a friend with an equal number of friends.
Results: Across Four Conditions 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Fewer Equal More Intention F(2,164)=4.34, p= .02 Participants perceived those with more friends to have worse intentions (higher value = showing off).
Results: Across Four Conditions 0 1 2 3 4 5 Fewer Equal More Likelihood to Like Status F(2,165)=4.34, p= .02 Participants were more willing to like the status of those with similar popularity.
Results: Gender Differences • Men and women reported looking at a friend of the same sex around two-thirds of the time. • Men report significantly higher self-esteem and popularity when viewing a friend’s profile who had more friends than they did (association). • Women, in contrast, report lower self-esteem and popularity (social comparison). These results led to the creation of Experiment Two.
Methods – Experiment Two • Survey o N = 285 (Mage=28.8, SD=9.56, 62% Male) o Amazon Mechanical Turk Services Do you use Facebook? Assign Priming (Associative or comparative) Assign Condition (More, less, or equal popularity) View other’s profile and answer questions about that profile and a behavioral measure Personal Assessment • Dependent Variables o Same as in Experiment Two
Adding Primes • Participants were primed at the very beginning with a short statement. • Association: “It is important in life to develop relationships with people” in order to encourage thoughts about friendships and unity. • Comparison: “It is important in life to develop a competitive edge” in order to encourage thoughts about competition and individuation. • Then asked to reflect with a short response on a situation in which the participant’s assigned strength (relationships vs. competitive edge) aided them.
Results: Gender Differences Men’s self-esteem was about equal for all levels of popularity in the associative context. However, in a comparative context, men felt the highest self-esteem when viewing someone who was less popular.
Results: Gender Differences Women’s self-esteem was about equal in the comparison condition across all popularity levels. However, they had the lowest self- esteem when viewing equally popular friends in an associative context.
Conclusions • Social networking impacts us in more ways than we are consciously aware. • In Study 1, we found that self-esteem is lower when viewing the profile of a more popular person, but popularity is higher. • We perceive a more popular person to have intentions of showing off more than an equally popular person and significantly more than a less popular person. • We are more likely to contribute “likes” to posts by equally popular people. • There are significant gender differences in how men and women respond to each other online.
Conclusions (cont.) • In Study 2, we found men are most affected by social comparisons of those who are around as popular as them, while women worry more about the extremes, those much more popular than them. • Men felt self-esteem increases when viewing a less popular person and decreases when viewing a more popular person, while women felt the opposite in the comparison condition. • The genders reacted differently to the primes. • However, there are significant differences in how men and women behave online.
Future Studies • Future studies should look to investigate more perceptions or behaviors associated with Facebook usage. • We should investigate the differences between changes in self-esteem and perceived popularity in that the former seemed to be connected to comparison and the latter appeared to be association. • We should also conduct another experiment with the focus of uncovering the many gender differences in online social networking. • Gaining some insight into why these behaviors exist can help us understand our interactions, both online and offline.
Acknowledgments • Mentors: Dr. Dan Ariely and Dr. Lalin Anik • Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University • Research coordinator: Dr. Sarah Shoemaker • Transportation o NCSSM o NCSSM Foundation Board o Biogen Idec
Works Cited Gonzales, A. L., & Hancock, J. T. (2011). Mirror, Mirror on my Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking , 14 (1-2), 79-82. Mehdizadeh, S. (2010). Self-Presentation 2.0: Narcissism and Self-Esteem on Facebook. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking , 13 (4), 357- 364. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
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