Media Effects Research Lab - Research Archive

Self Representative Behaviors Among Instagram Users and their Effect of the Nature of Posts

Student Researcher(s)

Weng Ee Then (B.A. Candidate); Jamie Shortsleeve (B.A. Candidate); Natalie Perdue (B.A. Candidate)

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

This paper was based on a project as part of the “COMM 418” course.

INTRODUCTION
Social media have given Internet users a platform for self-expression. The social media platform, Instagram (IG), allows users to capture, edit, and publish photos directly to their personal page. The purpose of this study is to further understand the relationship between the amount of followers a user holds and their posting behaviors. As we study this relationship we consider the role social desirability and personality may play in our results. Past research has evaluated the uses and gratifications of social media use, although few have studied differences among the users themselves. Our purpose is to go a step further to understand how self-representation and editing posting behaviors vary among users.

RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESES
RQ: For IG users, controlling for extroversion and introversion, what is the relationship between number of IG followers and the nature of their posts?
H1: IG users with higher number of followers will edit their photos more often than IG users with a lower number of followers.
H2: IG users with higher number of followers will result in more self-representation in their posts than IG users with a lower number of followers.
H3: IG users with higher number of followers will result in more positive self-presentation in their posts than IG users with a lower number of followers.
H4: IG users with lower number of followers will result in more honest self-presentation in their posts than IG users with a higher number of followers.
H5: IG users who have honest self-presentation will edit posts less.
H6: IG users who have positive self-presentation will edit posts more.
H7: The relationship between number of IG followers and edits of post is mediated by self-presentation.
H8: Extrovert IG users will edit post more often than introvert IG users.
H9: Extrovert IG users will post more self-representative photos than introvert IG users.

METHOD
Participants were a convenience sample. They were asked questions, in an online survey conducted using Qualtrics, dealing with number of Instagram follower they have, posting habits on Instagram and various personality questions. The independent variable was number of followers. The mediating variable was honest vs. positive self-presentation. The dependent variable was edits of posts and tone of posts. We also controlled for a person’s level of extroversion.

RESULTS
H1: partially supported
H2: not supported
H3: partially supported
H4: partially supported
H5: not supported
H6: partially supported
H7: partially supported
H8: not supported
H9: not supported

CONCLUSIONS/DISCUSSION


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H1 leant support to uses and gratification theory. We believe that people may have edited their posts more because it reinforced positive emotions and gave them social gratification. H3 and H4 aligned with self presentation theory, showing that the more followers a person had on Instagram the more they seemed to be concerned with other people’s perception of them perception. Therefore, resulting in their posts showing positive self-presentation. In regards to H6 and H7, we found that people who show positive self-presentation will edit their posts more and this is regardless of how many followers the person had. H2, H5, H8 and H9 were not supported.

 

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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