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Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2016 Dec;19(12):703-708. Epub 2016 Nov 17.

Instagram Use, Loneliness, and Social Comparison Orientation: Interact and Browse on Social Media, But Don't Compare.

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Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research, University of Memphis , Memphis, Tennessee.


Ever since the emergence of social networking sites (SNSs), it has remained a question without a conclusive answer whether SNSs make people more or less lonely. To achieve a better understanding, researchers need to move beyond studying overall SNS usage. In addition, it is necessary to attend to personal attributes as potential moderators. Given that SNSs provide rich opportunities for social comparison, one highly relevant personality trait would be social comparison orientation (SCO), and yet this personal attribute has been understudied in social media research. Drawing on literature of psychosocial implications of social media use and SCO, this study explored associations between loneliness and various Instagram activities and the role of SCO in this context. A total of 208 undergraduate students attending a U.S. mid-southern university completed a self-report survey (Mage = 19.43, SD = 1.35; 78 percent female; 57 percent White). Findings showed that Instagram interaction and Instagram browsing were both related to lower loneliness, whereas Instagram broadcasting was associated with higher loneliness. SCO moderated the relationship between Instagram use and loneliness such that Instagram interaction was related to lower loneliness only for low SCO users. The results revealed implications for healthy SNS use and the importance of including personality traits and specific SNS use patterns to disentangle the role of SNS use in psychological well-being.


loneliness; social comparison; social media; social networking site; well-being

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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