Term of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jessica Brooks

Committee Member 1

Dorthie Cross

Committee Member 2

Karen Naufel

Abstract

Research concerning the influence of social networking on our mood and well-being has been steadily growing over the past decade. Social Comparison Theory has drawn considerable attention in this area; however, findings have been mixed concerning the situational factors influencing the relationship between social comparison, social networking, and affect. The study investigated the impact of stress and social comparison via social networking platforms on affect. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (1) Downward Comparison – No Stress; (2) Upward Comparison – No Stress; (3) Downward Comparison – Stress; (4) Upward Comparison – Stress. They rated their subjective experiences before and after viewing preconstructed social networking profiles and those assigned to the Stress conditions underwent a stress manipulation (Trier Social Stress Test) prior to viewing the social networking profiles. A mixed factorial ANOVA assessed changes in negative affect, and a mixed factorial ANCOVA assessed changes in positive affect across conditions. No significant differences were found for change in positive or negative affect between conditions. No significant interaction effects were found for stress or social comparison. The covariate empathic concern was nonsignificant. Significant reductions in negative affect over time were found, regardless of condition. There was a main effect for stress; pairwise comparisons showed a significant reduction in negative affect for individuals not partaking in the stress manipulation. In contrast to the hypothesized findings, social networking use was found to be relatively calming. The study builds on the available knowledge by considering the avenues by which social networking use poses a threat to mental health and well-being given the pervasive nature of social networking in the modern world.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

No

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