Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Verena Graupmann, PhD
Kimberly Quinn, PhD
Scholars have speculated on the effects of social media on our self-esteem, but research has resulted in mixed findings (e.g., Valkenburg et al., 2006). One area that has yet to be investigated thoroughly is how social media use relates to self-esteem pursuit (Crocker & Park, 2004). Self-esteem pursuit has negative outcomes for learning, relatedness, and autonomy (Crocker & Park, 2004), but research has yet to determine whether pursuing self-esteem on social media results in similar negative outcomes. The current study investigated whether social media engage users in self-esteem pursuit by priming existing self-esteem contingencies. Additionally, we investigated whether these contingencies lead to preoccupation with the self or impact rational information processing. Using a selective exposure paradigm, we assessed whether heightened awareness of self-esteem contingencies on social media motivates one to bolster their self-view by engaging in biased motivational reasoning (i.e., confirmation bias) and whether the proposed relationship can be explained by an increase in self-focused attention. Results showed that engaging with Instagram (relative to Wikipedia) did not produce increases in contingent self-esteem or biased motivational reasoning behavior. These findings suggest that brief exposure to varied content on social media does not prime existing self-esteem contingencies. Implications of these results with respect to improving the current methods for future investigation of this research question are discussed.
Snyder, Jason, "Your Mind Online: The Influence of Contingent Self-Esteem on Confirmation Bias" (2021). College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations. 388.