University of Twente Student Theses


InstaGRAM: Which GRAM Weighs the Most on Your Body Image? : A Qualitative Study on the Content of Instagram and its Different Impacts on Adolescents Body Image

Glaser, H.C. (2022) InstaGRAM: Which GRAM Weighs the Most on Your Body Image? : A Qualitative Study on the Content of Instagram and its Different Impacts on Adolescents Body Image.

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Abstract:Introduction and Objective: Through social network sites (SNSs) like Instagram, users are constantly exposed to what seems like the perfect lives and bodies of others. Research in this field has purely quantitively focused on the mere time adolescents spend on Instagram, uncovering the most negative effects of social media on body image. No research has yet been going to the root of the influence, the consumed content. Hence, this study is the first to investigate the actual posted content on Instagram. The study aims to uncover connections between the content and its diverse impacts on adolescents' body image qualitatively. Method: A diary study was used among 28 adolescents (Mage = 21, 79% female) to uncover these connections. First, a practical foundational understanding of adolescents participating in this study was built using a questionnaire. The questionnaire measured their Instagram usage, likelihood to engage in social comparison, and negative- and positive body image. The central diary study collected one Instagram post a day, which participants identified as body image influential. Over the course of 5 days, participants screenshotted content and were asked open questions about why they chose the post and its impact on them. Results: Contrasting to existing literature, participants of this study reported higher positive body image effects. These positive results are suggested to be caused by the emerging body positivity movement and active social media usage as it enhances the feeling of connectivity. Furthermore, participants engaged in social comparison to motivate themselves to become a better version and saw others as an inspiration. Results regarding negative body image effects were clearly caused by the idealistic thin ideal content, which is still present today. Additionally, passive Instagram usage and comparing oneself to strangers also negatively impacted body image. Conclusion: The findings suggest that solely social media usage does not affect body image, but rather that the specific content adolescents are exposed to and interact with effects their body image positively or negatively. Implications: These insights can serve as input for Instagram to redesign its main feed features in ways that enhance, rather than diminish, adolescents' body image. Moreover, they can be used to effectively support adolescents regarding their Instagram usage and assist them with possible consequences by enlightening and helping them understand where their body image influences are coming from. Keywords: Instagram, Instagram content, body image, social comparison, adolescents
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies BSc (56615)
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