Who Is Most Concerned With Self-presentation on Social Media?

The study covered in this summary was published in Research Square as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Key Takeaways

  • A high focus on self-presentation was associated with female gender, higher extraversion, lower emotional stability, more frequent alcohol consumption, and having tried tobacco.

  • Given the association of aspects of self-presentation with negative mental health outcomes shown in previous research, efforts to reduce focus on self-presentation could be warranted.

  • Further work is needed to assess how focus on self-presentation is related to important outcomes for adolescents, such as mental health, satisfaction with life, and educational attainment.

Why This Matters

  • There is a growing literature on the potential consequences of adolescents’ use of social media.

  • Self-presentation on social media, which is motivated by getting positive feedback, referred to as feedback-seeking or status-seeking, has been associated with negative outcomes, such as depressive symptoms, lower body satisfaction, and lower well-being.

  • Feedback-seeking has also been reported to be associated with lifestyle factors such as substance abuse and sexual risk behavior.

Study Design

  • The study was based on a cross-sectional survey conducted in Bergen, Norway, and included 2023 senior high school pupils (response rate, 54%; mean age, 17.4 years; 44% males).

  • Nine self-presentation items were assessed using factor analysis, and latent class analysis was used to identify latent classes with distinct patterns of responses across the seven retained items.

  • Associations between identified latent classes and covariates were assessed using regression analyses as well as nonparametric approaches.

  • The self-presentation items converged into one factor, called “focus on self-presentation.”

Key Results

  • The researchers identified three groups of adolescents with low, intermediate, and high focus on self-presentation.

  • 83% percent of the females indicated that they used social media several times each day or “almost constantly,” compared to 74% of males.

  • Females were more likely to be in higher classes (ie, have higher focus on self-presentation) than in lower classes for all class comparisons.

  • Compared to those who had never tried alcohol, those who consumed alcohol more than twice in 2 weeks were more likely to be in higher classes for all class comparisons when controlling for gender.

  • Compared to high emotional stability, those with low or intermediate emotional stability were more likely to be in higher classes compared to lower classes for all class comparisons.

Limitations

  • The study is cross-sectional, so it cannot be used to draw conclusions about cause and effect.

  • The participant rate was somewhat low (54%). It is possible that more of the participants who completed the survey were highly invested in social media, thus causing a bias in the results.

  • Participants were drawn from a limited geographical area, and the results may not be generalizable to other countries or cultures.

Disclosures

  • The present study is associated with a larger innovation project led by Bergen municipality in Western Norway related to the use of social media and mental health and well-being.

  • The innovation project is funded by a program initiated by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and aims to explore social media as a platform for health promotion among adolescents.

This is a summary of a preprint research study, “Focus on Self-presentation on Social Media Across Sociodemographic Variables, Lifestyle, and Personality: A Cross-sectional Study,” written by Gunnhild Johnsen Hjetland from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and colleagues. It was published on researchsquare.com and is provided to you by Medscape. The study has not yet been reviewed. The full text of the study can be found on researchsquare.com.

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