Compare yourself well to others and refresh your soul: social networking sites, social comparison and depression among young adults

Auteur Raphael AUBRY
Directeur /trice Alain Quiamzade
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s)
Résumé de la thèse

Scientific evidence shows that the use of social networking sites (SNS) impact the mental health of adolescents by increasing depressive symptoms. Considering the significant number of adolescents using SNS and the prevalence of depression among adolescents, the impacts of SNS use might constitute a major public health issue. However, the processes underlying these impacts and the causal relationship between SNS use and mental health remain unclear. Crucially, SNS intrinsically and constantly involve (upward and downward) social comparison processes. The aim of this research project is to investigate more accurately the role of such upward social comparison (USC) involved in the effects of SNS use on adolescent health. Two distinct processes of USC can be distinguished; namely, inspiration and threat, producing different effects on self-esteem and emotions. It is hypothesized that SNS inspiration produces positive emotions such as sympathy and hope, and increases self-esteem leading to a decrease in depressive symptoms, whereas SNS threat produce negative emotions such as frustration and resentment, and decreases self-esteem leading to an increase in depressive symptoms. I propose two sets of studies relying on longitudinal and experimental methods to test these hypotheses among adolescents between 18 and 25 years old in the French-speaking Switzerland. I believe the present project will help understanding how SNS use impacts adolescent mental health and, consequently, establishing healthy social media practices.

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