How many likes did I get?: Purpose moderates links between positive social media feedback and self-esteem.

Published on Mar 1, 2017in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
· DOI :10.1016/j.jesp.2016.09.005
Anthony L. Burrow20
Estimated H-index: 20
(Cornell University),
Nicolette Rainone1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Cornell University)
Abstract Sociometer theory asserts that self-esteem is calibrated to one's perceived relational value. Accordingly, positive feedback should boost self-esteem because it signals acceptance by others. Yet, the extent to which self-esteem is sensitive to positive feedback may depend on individuals' sense of purpose. In two studies ( N  = 342), we tested purpose in life as a source of self-directed and prosocial motivation and predicted that having greater purpose would lessen sensitivity to social media feedback. Study 1 revealed that the number of likes individuals received on their Facebook profile pictures was positively associated with self-esteem. Study 2 replicated these findings experimentally by manipulating the number of likes individuals received on self-photographs posted to a mock Facebook site. In both studies, links between likes and self-esteem were diminished for those with greater purpose. Implications for purpose as a moderator of the self-esteem contingencies of positive social feedback are discussed.
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