Effects of social comparison on self

Effects of Social Comparison on Self
Student`s Name
Comparing oneself with someone else who seems to be doing better or worse than we are
in relation to beauty, wealth, success or even brainpower has been the norm in the society we
live in today. Everyone at one point tends to compare himself/herself with others to determine
their worth, their position in society or even status (Buunk et al, 1990). In a group setting, this is
called social comparison. This excerpt is purposed to discuss the effects of social comparison on
self. Using Instagram exposure time of three groups i.e. upward comparison group, downward
comparison group and the control group to compare and make conclusions on the its effect on
self. The hypothesis of the study was ‘Instagram as a social comparison platform has effect on
self.’ From the results obtained, it was found that actually Instagram as a social comparison
platform had no effects on self thus the hypothesis was not supported.
Method, procedure and results
51 Participants - 19 male and 32 female - were invited between the age of 19 and 25, all
college students who participated for extra credit. Participants used their own Instagram accounts
without limit to time. The results of their exposure to three distinct categories were subjected to
the Rosenberg self-esteem scale. These categories included the downward comparison group, the
control group and the upward comparison group each group with 17 participants. Participants in
the upward comparison group spent M = 11.59 (SD = 5.72) minutes in the Instagram task,
participants in the downward comparison group spent M = (SD =) minutes in the task and those
in the control group spent M = (SD =) minutes in the task. These means were not significantly
different, F(2,43) = 1.79, p > .05. The procedure used for this study included getting information
on the participants Instagram use and their views on its effect on self-esteem and information
uploaded in the Medialab software. It also incuded manipulation of the profile content to suit the
pre-determined results of each group and express upward and downward comparative
information (Vogel et al, 2014). For the downward comparison category, participants were
exposed to information content of people who were least off compared to them. The control
group on the other hand was allowed to read content of people who had pretty much the same
level of achievements and status. The upward comparison group was subjected to information
and content of persons who had made it in life, way better than themselves. At the end of the
study period, their reaction to the content provided in Instagram was obtained by asking a simple
question based on the Rosenberg self-esteem scale: Likert - 0 to 3. Like “I feel that I am a person
of worth at least on an equal plane to others” and “All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a
failure” (Vogel et al, 2014).
From the experiment, the downward comparison received fewer likes and it was expected
of the group to have a high self-esteem because of the feeling of being better. The control group
received some relative number of likes but not as low as those of the downward comparison
hence it was expected of them to have a moderate self-esteem. The last group, the upward
comparison group received the most likes of profile content they were involved and was
expected to show the lowest self-esteem of the three groups. The impact of the profile content
manipulation was subjected to ANOVA test and the results obtained (F = 1.785 at p > 0.5)
showed that there was no significant difference in the participant experience with the varied
content exposure.
Limitations and suggestions for future research
The study experienced a number of limiting factors such as few numbers of willing
participants. Also the participants were all college students which do not reflect on the true
representation of the society. For future work, a sizeable number of participants would be of
great assistance in testing for self esteem which may have a significant difference on the results
From the study, it was evident that the hypothesis was not supported by the results;
Instagram as a social comparison platform had no effects on self. ANOVA and Rosenberg tests
were used to test for significance difference in experience after exposure to the different
categories of social comparison groups. Although the 51 participants used were able to give
substantive results, they were not sufficient.
Vogel E.A., Rose J.P., Roberts L.R. and Eckles K. (2014). Social comparison, Social Media, and
Self-Esteem. Psychology of popular media culture. Vol. 3, No. 4, 206 222.
Buunk B.P., Collins R.L., Taylor S.E., Vanyperen N.W. and Dakof G.A. (1990). The affective
consequences of social comparison: Either direction has its ups and downs. Journal of
personality and social psychology. Vol. 59, No. 6, 1238-1249.

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