When Image Isn’t Everything: The Effects of Instagram Frames on Social Comparison

Jennifer Lewallen

Abstract


In recent years visual social media have become increasingly popular mechanisms for communication.  Past research suggests links between using social media, upward social comparison, and negative affect.  The present online experiment of U.S. women (N = 58) takes a media psychology approach to understanding how text frames on image-based social media contribute to social comparison and perceptions of the self. Findings suggest that individuals who were in a body-positive experimental condition reported higher levels of self-esteem than did the women in a body-negative experimental condition. Those in the negative conditions ranked significantly higher on state social comparison with the images than those in the positive condition. Additionally, women who compared themselves to the women in the experimental images were also more likely to fantasize that they could achieve the look and lifestyle of the women featured in the images. Findings are discussed in light of framing theory and social comparison theory and suggestions are made for future experimental work.


Keywords


Social media, social comparison, framing theory, media effects, women

Full Text:

PDF

References


Alperstein, N. (2015). Social comparison of idealized female images and the curation of self on Pinterest. The Journal of Social Media In Society, 4(2).

Aubrey, J. (2010). Looking good versus feeling good: An investigation of media frames of health advice and their effects on women’s body-related self-perceptions. Sex Roles, 63(1-2),50-63. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9768-4

Aubrey, J.S., Henson, J., Hopper, K.M., & Smith, S.E. (2009). A picture is worth twenty words (about the self): Testing the priming influence of visual sexual objectification on women’s self-objectification. Communication Research Reports, 26, 271-284. doi:10.1080/ 08824090903293551

Berry, T. R., & Lauzon, L. (2003). A content analysis of fitness magazines. Avante, 9(1), 25-33.

Bessenoff, G. R. (2006). Can the media affect us? Social comparison, self-discrepancy, and the thin ideal. Psychology Of Women Quarterly, 30(3), 239-251. doi:10.1111/j.1471- 6402.2006.00292.x

Blease, C. (2015). Too many 'friends,' too few 'likes'? Evolutionary psychology and 'Facebook depression'. Review of General Psychology, 19(1), 1-13. doi:10.1037/gpr0000030

Body Mass Index (BMI). (2015). Body Mass Index (BMI). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/ (accessed 1 January 2016).

Borah, P. (2011). Conceptual issues in framing theory: A systematic examination of a decade’s literature. Journal of Communication, 61(2), 246-263. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460- 2466.2011.01539.x

Chen, H., & Jackson, T. (2012). Gender and age group differences in mass media and interpersonal influences on body dissatisfaction among Chinese adolescents. Sex Roles, 66(1-2), 3–20. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0056-8

Dahl, M. (2014, February 24). Stop obsessing: Women spend 2 weeks a year on their appearance, TODAY survey shows. Retrieved from http://www.today.com/health/stop-obsessing-women-waste-2-weeks-year-their-appearance-today-2D12104866

Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43(4), 51–58. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1993.tb01304.x

Eyal, K., & Te’eni-Harari, T. (2013). Explaining the relationship between media exposure and early adolescents’ body image perceptions: The role of favorite characters. Journal of Media Psychology, 25(3), 129–141. http://doi.org/10.1027/1864-1105/a000094

Feinstein, B. A., Hershenberg, R., Bhatia, V., Latack, J. A., Meuwly, N., & Davila, J. (2013). Negative social comparison on Facebook and depressive symptoms: Rumination as a mechanism. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2(3), 161-170. doi:10.1037/a0033111

Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117 –140. doi:10.1177/001872675400700202.

Fredrickson, B. L., Roberts, T. A., Noll, S. M. Quinn, D. M., & Twenge, J. M. (1998). That swimsuit becomes you: Sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 269-284.

Garcia, S. M., Tor, A., & Gonzalez, R. (2006). Ranks and rivals: a theory of competition. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(7), 970–82. doi:10.1177/0146167206287640

Ghaznavi, J., & Taylor, L. D. (2015). Bones, body parts, and sex appeal: An analysis of #thinspiration images on popular social media. Body Image, 14, 54–61. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.03.006

Harrison, K., & Hefner, V. (2006). Media exposure, current and future body ideals, and disordered eating among preadolescent girls: A longitudinal panel study. Journal Of Youth & Adolescence, 35(2), 146. doi:10.1007/s10964-005-9008-3

Lecheler, S. & de Vreese, C.H. (2011). Getting real: The duration of framing effects. Journal of Communication, 61(5), 959-983.

Lewallen, J., & Behm-Morawitz, E. (2016). Pinterest or thinterest?: Social comparison and body image on social media. Social Media+ Society, 2(1), 2056305116640559.

Markland, D. & Ingledew, D.K. (1997). The measurement of exercise motives: Factorial validity and invariance across gender of a revised Exercise Motivations Inventory. British Journal of Health Psychology, 2, 361-376.

Mueller, A. S., Pearson, J., Muller, C., Frank, K., & Turner, A. (2010). Sizing up peers: Adolescent girls’ weight control and social comparison in the school context. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51(1), 64–78. http://doi.org/10.1177/0022146509361191

Mulligan, K., & Habel, P. (2011). An experimental test of the effects of fictional framing on attitudes. Social Science Quarterly (Blackwell Publishing Limited), 92(1), 79-99. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2011.00758.x

O’Keefe, D.J. (2007). Post-hoc power, observed power, a-priori power, retrospective power, prospective power, achieved power: Sorting out appropriate uses of statistical power analyses. Communication Methods and Measures, 1(4), 291-299.

Pila, E., Stamiris, A., Castonguay, A., & Sabiston, C. M. (2014). Body-related envy: A social comparison perspective in sport and exercise. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 36(1), 93-106. doi:10.1123/jsep.2013-0100

Reaves, S. (2011). Rethinking visual ethics: Evolution, social comparison and the media's mono-body in the global rise of eating disorders. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 26(2), 114-134. doi:10.1080/08900523.2011.559793

Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Segar, M. L., Updegraff, J. A., Zikmund-Fisher, B. J., & Richardson, C. R. (2012). Physical activity advertisements that feature daily well-being improve autonomy and body image in overweight women but not men. Journal of Obesity, 2012, 1–19. http://doi.org/10.1155/2012/354721

Scheufele, D. (1999). Framing as a theory of media effects. Journal of Communication, 49, 103- 122. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.1999.tb02784.x

Scheufele, D. A., & Tewksbury, D. (2007). Framing, agenda setting, and priming: The evolution of three media effects models. Journal Of Communication, 57(1), 9-20. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2006.00326.x

Sifferlin, A. (2013, May 15). Looking good on Facebook: Social media leads to spikes in plastic surgery requests. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2013/05/15/social-media-and-plastic-surgery/

Stice, E. & Whitenton, K. (2002). Risk factors for body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls: A longitudinal investigation. Developmental Psychology, 38, 669-678.

Tiggemann, M., Polivy, J., & Hargreaves, D. (2009). The processing of thin ideals in fashion magazines: A source of social comparison or fantasy? Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28, 73-93.

Tiggemann, M., & Zaccardo, M. (2015). “Exercise to be fit, not skinny”: The effect of fitspiration imagery on women’s body image. Body Image, 15, 61–67. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.06.003

Willis, L. E., & Knobloch-Westerwick, S. (2014). Weighing women down: Messages on weight loss and body shaping in editorial content in popular women’s health and fitness magazines. Health Communication, 29(4), 323-331. doi:10.1080/10410236.2012.755602


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Based at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, USA, The Journal of Social Media in Society is sponsored by the Colleges of Liberal and Fine Arts, Education, Business Administration, and Graduate Studies.