The Effects of Virtual Likes on Self-Esteem: A Discussion of Receiving and Viewing Likes on Social Media

The Effects of Virtual Likes on Self-Esteem: A Discussion of Receiving and Viewing Likes on Social Media

Malinda Desjarlais (Mount Royal University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9412-3.ch012

Abstract

Social networking sites offer opportunities for users to express themselves and receive immediate feedback in the form of virtual likes. Adolescents place a great deal of value on the number of likes, regarding them as indicators of peer acceptance and support. Since peer feedback and social comparison are integral to adolescents' self-evaluations, the aim of the current chapter is to determine whether self-esteem is sensitive to the number of likes associated with their own (peer feedback) and others' posts (social comparison). The synthesis of literature indicates that self-esteem is responsive to indicators of one's value to others as well as the value of others, supporting the sociometer and social comparison theories. Indications of liking online serve to enhance self-esteem, whereas rejection deflates it. In addition, seeing others get many likes negatively impacts viewers' self-esteem. The gaps in the literature are discussed and future research is suggested.
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Self-Esteem Background

Self-esteem can be conceptualized as the extent to which individuals accept, approve of, or value themselves. While state self-esteem represents the momentary fluctuations in one’s feelings about him/herself, trait self-esteem captures one’s global appraisal of his/her value (Leary, 1999). Researchers agree that low self-esteem is associated with a variety of psychological challenges, including depression, loneliness, substance abuse, and academic failure (Henriksen, Ranøyen, Indredavik & Stenseng, 2017; Leary, 1999; Rosenberg, Schooler, & Schoenbach, 1989; Silverstone & Salsali, 2003). According to Argyle (2008), the following four major factors influence self-esteem: the reactions of others, comparison with others, one’s social roles, and one’s identification with social roles. The current chapter focuses on the first two factors, which are most relevant for the effect of virtual likes on self-esteem.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Passive Social Networking Usage: consumption of social networking content without direct engagement with the information owner (e.g., browsing news feeds or looking at profiles, pictures, and status updates posted by other social network users).

Quantitative Feedback: Responses on social media from friends and followers consisting of numbers (i.e., number of likes).

Virtual Like: Also referred to as a like, this is a symbol, such as thumbs up or heart, viewers on social media can select to provide feedback or acknowledgement to posts on social media.

Self-Esteem: The extent to which individuals accept, approve of, or value themselves.

Status Update: A feature on social networking sites which allows users to share their thoughts, feelings, experiences, whereabouts, and so on. A status is often short and posted on the user’s profile page, as well as in the new feeds of friends and followers.

Upward Social Comparison: Instances where the target of social comparison is perceived as doing better than oneself on some dimension.

Social media: Online platforms that permit users to create a profile, as well as connect and exchange information about oneself with other members. Examples include social networking sites, instant messaging services, blogging sites, and multiplayer online games.

Qualitative Feedback: Responses on social media from friends and followers consisting of written text (i.e., comments).

Downward Social Comparison: Instances where the target of social comparison is perceived as doing worse than oneself on some dimension.

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