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Consumption-oriented engagement in social network sites: Undesirable influence on personal well-being

Hillbun Ho (Marketing Department, University of Technology Sydney Faculty of Business, New South Wales, Australia)
Kenichi Ito (Division of Psychology, School of Humanities and Social Science, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 27 March 2019

Issue publication date: 22 August 2019




Mounting empirical evidence shows that engagement in social network sites (SNSs) could have a negative impact on users’ personal well-being. However, studies of the undesirable effects of SNS use have not examined SNSs as a channel for users to share consumption information and experiences. To extend prior research, this study aims to examine the impact of consumption-oriented engagement (COE) in SNSs on young adult consumers’ personal well-being in terms of anxiety and self-esteem, as well as excessive spending.


Surveys were the primary means of data collection from a sample of young college students (N = 900). Moderated hierarchical regression was used to test the hypotheses.


COE is positively associated with anxiety and excessive spending and negatively associated with self-esteem. Social comparison mediates these relationships, and individuals’ materialistic values moderate the mediation.

Research limitations/implications

This study demonstrates the psychological and behavioral outcomes of consumer socialization via digital media among young adult consumers. It introduces and empirically validates social comparison as a theoretical explanation for the effects of COE. In addition, it validates materialistic values as a personal trait that moderates the effects of COE.

Practical implications

The study validates COE as a key precursor to the well-being of young adult users of SNSs and social comparison as the mediator. With this understanding, public policies can be designed to mitigate the root cause of the negative impact of SNS use.


Findings shed light on the negative repercussions of engagement in SNSs in the consumption domain and provide an impetus for educators, researchers and policymakers to make further efforts to gain a thorough understanding of the pitfalls of social media use.



Ho, H. and Ito, K. (2019), "Consumption-oriented engagement in social network sites: Undesirable influence on personal well-being", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 53 No. 7, pp. 1355-1377.



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