Social approval, social comparison, and digital alteration on Instagram as predictors of image fixation


  • Thomas Richard Wagner Xavier University
  • Kiera Wolkins Loyola University of Chicago
  • Aubree Herman University of Kentucky


image fixation, Instagram, social comparison, digital alteration


This study explored social approval, social comparison, and digital alteration on Instagram as predictors of image fixation (IF). IF is the extent to which a person is overly focused on how others perceive them with an emphasis on physical appearance (Richmond & McCroskey, 2004). An in-person survey (n = 161) measured Instagram behaviors directly related to social approval, social comparison, and digital alteration were significant predictors of image fixation. Consistent with previous research, social comparison was the strongest predictor. Time spent on Instagram, editing photos, and selecting an image were positively correlated with IF. Implications for this research include a greater understanding and a call for further implications of a preoccupation with one’s image and the damaging effects of social media use established in previous research including the potential for body dysmorphia and depression.

Author Biography

Thomas Richard Wagner, Xavier University

Associate Professor, Department of Communication 


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