Lying or longing for likes? Narcissism, peer belonging, loneliness and normative versus deceptive like-seeking on Instagram in emerging adulthood
Abstract We examined the extent to which emerging adults engage in different behaviors on Instagram, a popular social networking site, to gain attention and validation from others via “likes.” We also examined individual differences in the frequency of like-seeking behavior and motives for Instagram use as mediators of these relationships. Participants ( N = 198 and 265 (replication study)) were recruited via an online crowdsourcing portal to complete a survey. Results demonstrated that, as predicted, participants engaged in an assortment of different like-seeking behaviors. Further, a two-factor solution emerged, with like-seeking behavior separated by whether they were normative (i.e., common or accepted, e.g., using filters or hashtags) or deceptive (e.g., buying likes or changing one’s appearance in photos using software). Deceptive like-seeking was predicted by stronger narcissism and a weaker sense of peer belonging, whereas normative like-seeking was predicted by stronger narcissism and a stronger sense of peer belonging. Further, consistent with hypotheses, significant mediators of the relation between narcissism and deceptive like-seeking included motives to use Instagram to increase popularity and showcase creativity. Results help to identify young people who are more susceptible to engaging in deceptive, potentially harmful acts to gain attention and validation on Instagram.