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Social media use and subjective well-being: an investigation of individual differences in personality, social comparison and Facebook behaviour

Gerson, J. (2018). Social media use and subjective well-being: an investigation of individual differences in personality, social comparison and Facebook behaviour. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis investigates how social media use is associated with subjective well-being by examining the role of individual differences. The popularity of social networking sites has increased significantly over the past decade, with the most popular social media site, Facebook, now reporting over 2 billion users (Facebook Newsroom, 2018). With such widespread use, it is important to understand how Facebook use is related to its users’ subjective well-being (SWB). Previous research has yielded mixed results; however, many of these studies have not taken individual differences into account. Therefore, this thesis investigates how individual differences associated with SWB. The research in Chapter 2 demonstrates that some personality traits moderate the relationship between Facebook social comparison and SWB. Goal-Drive Persistence moderates the relationship between eudaimonic well-being and Facebook social comparison, and BIS moderates the relationship between negative affect and Facebook social comparison. Chapter 3 introduces Facebook engagement styles (active/passive use), and develops scales to measure these differences. The Passive Active Use Measure quantifies three types of Facebook engagement: Active social use, Active non-social use, and Passive use. The research in Chapter 4 finds that personality traits are associated with Facebook engagement styles, and that active forms of use have positive associations with SWB, while passive use is negatively associated with life satisfaction. The results further reveal that individuals who use Facebook intensely to alleviate boredom or for self-expression have higher SWB, while users who overuse report lower SWB. Finally, chapter 5 finds that Facebook engagement styles are associated with social comparison behaviour; active users compare their opinions, while passive users compare both opinions and abilities. Further investigation reveals that the comparison of opinions on Facebook is associated with higher SWB, while the comparison of abilities on Facebook is associated with lower SWB. The results of this thesis suggest that how Facebook is associated with SWB is dependent on individual differences and demonstrates the importance of accounting for individual differences when studying the relationship between Facebook use and SWB.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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