Date of Award

1-17-2019

Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Josee L Jarry

Rights

info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Abstract

In this dissertation, women’s motivation to post selfies, defined as self-taken photographs of only themselves, and the impact of feedback received on these images on self-esteem was investigated. It was hypothesized that women higher in appearance contingent self-worth would have a stronger desire for positive appearance feedback, and that this would result in more frequent selfie posting, as this could be a means of soliciting positive feedback. In addition, it was hypothesized that women higher in appearance contingent self-worth would be more strongly impacted by feedback received on selfies than would women lower in appearance contingent self-worth given that this feedback could be perceived as being appearance-based. Three studies were conducted online, all with female undergraduate students. In Study I (N = 297), survey-based data were collected, and the results indicated that although the correlation between appearance-contingent self-worth and frequency of selfie posting was not significant, there was a significant indirect relationship through the desire to obtain positive appearance feedback. Further, exploratory analyses revealed that appearance contingent self-worth was both directly and indirectly related to the extent to which women edit their photos. In Study II (N = 48), women’s Instagram accounts were accessed to obtain information about the average proportion of their followers who liked their selfies and provided positive appearance-based comments over two months. This information was used in conjunction with self-report measures to determine whether the amount of feedback received was associated with women’s trait self-esteem and appearance satisfaction over that time period. However, due to difficulties with recruitment, all analyses were underpowered and limited conclusions could be drawn about the relationships between selfie feedback on one hand and trait self-esteem and appearance satisfaction on the other. Lastly, in Study III (N = 175), an experimental design was used to determine whether receiving more or less likes than expected on a posted selfie affected women’s state appearance and social self-esteem and resulted in changes in women’s global state self-esteem. The results indicated that receiving more or less likes than expected on a selfie affected changes in global self-esteem, such that women who received more likes than expected experienced increases in state global self-esteem. Appearance contingent self-worth was assessed as a moderator of these potential effects, but was not significant. However, appearance contingent self-worth affected the interpretation of women’s number of received likes. Women higher in appearance contingent self-worth were more likely to attribute their number of received likes to their appearance than were women lower in appearance contingent self-worth. Taken together, the findings of this research suggest that although women higher in appearance contingent self-worth may have a stronger desire for appearance feedback and therefore post selfies more frequently, selfie posting may not always be an appearance-driven act. Appearance contingent self-worth was not directly related to selfie posting, nor did it moderate the impact of received likes on self-esteem. Further, research on the uses and gratifications associated with posting selfies on social media indicates that posting selfies to show one’s appearance and/or gain self-confidence is only one potential motivator underlying the posting of these photos (Alblooshi, 2015; Sung et al., 2016).

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