University of Twente Student Theses


Is The Grass Really Greener or is it Just a Filter? : How Social Comparison on Instagram Influences Aspects of Emerging Adults’ Self-Esteem

Beenen, K.T. (2021) Is The Grass Really Greener or is it Just a Filter? : How Social Comparison on Instagram Influences Aspects of Emerging Adults’ Self-Esteem.

[img] PDF
Abstract:Instagram is one of the most popular social network sites for young people these days. The application offers its users numerous opportunities to socially compare their abilities and opinions with that of others. Previous research showed that online social comparisons can influence how people evaluate themselves. However, little is known about which specific aspects of young Instagram users’ self-evaluation are affected the most. Hence, this study examined the effects of ability- and opinion-based social comparisons on Instagram on both female and male emerging adult’s social-, appearance-, and performance self-esteem. This was done by conducting two studies. First, an online questionnaire study was conducted in which 215 emerging adults (Mage = 21.5; 58.6% female) were asked about their social comparison behaviour on Instagram and their self-esteem. Second, 10 emerging adults (Mage = 21; 5 females) participated in a diary study in which they were asked to report the types of social comparisons that they made on Instagram on three different days. The results of the studies showed that emerging adults engage in ability-based social comparison more often than in opinion-based social comparison on Instagram. These ability-based social comparisons negatively affect emerging adults’ social self-esteem, both directly and indirectly (via feelings of envy). Moreover, ability-based social comparisons on Instagram were negatively related to male’s (not female’s) performance self-esteem via feelings of envy. Lastly, females’ social comparisons more often included comparing appearances. These findings show that ability-based social comparison on Instagram can be harmful to emerging adults’ self-esteem. Moreover, it showed that females and males differ in the types of social comparisons that they make on Instagram and in the effects that social comparisons can have on their performance self-esteem. These insights can be used to effectively support male and female emerging adults in coping with negative consequences associated with their daily Instagram use. Moreover, this study serves as input for Instagram to design the application in ways that enhance, rather than diminish, emerging adults’ self-esteem.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies, 70 social sciences in general, 76 recreation, leisure, 77 psychology
Programme:Communication Studies BSc (56615)
Link to this item:
Export this item as:BibTeX
HTML Citation
Reference Manager


Repository Staff Only: item control page