Upward social comparison and depression in social network settings

Yongzhan Li (Pingdingshan University, Pingdingshan, China)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Publication date: 4 February 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Previous research has linked upward social comparison on social network sites (SNSs) to depressive symptoms; however, the mechanism underlying this relationship remains unclear. The purpose of this paper is to explore the roles of envy and self-efficacy in the relationship between upward social comparison on SNSs and depressive symptoms.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the social comparison theory and previous related literature, a moderated mediation model integrating upward social comparison on SNSs, depressive symptoms, envy and self-efficacy was developed and empirically examined based on the data collected from 934 Chinese high school students.

Findings

The structural equation modeling analysis shows that envy partially mediates the relationship between upward social comparison on SNSs and depressive symptoms, whereas self-efficacy moderated both the direct effect of upward social comparison on SNSs on depressive symptoms and the mediating effect of envy in the relationship between upward social comparison on SNSs and depressive symptoms.

Practical implications

The findings offer interesting implications for guiding adolescents to use SNSs properly. This study found that envy and self-efficacy act as a mediator and moderator, respectively, between upward social comparison on SNSs and depressive symptoms, indicating that reducing envy and enhancing self-efficacy should be feasible to alleviate the negative effect of SNSs use.

Social implications

In order to alleviate the negative effect of SNSs use, parents and educators should direct adolescents to view others’ achievements and happiness properly and manage to improve self-efficacy among adolescents with poor self-efficacy through effective training.

Originality/value

Through building and examining a moderated mediation model integrating envy and self-efficacy into the relationship between upward social comparison on SNSs and depressive symptoms, the present study advances our understanding of how and when upward social comparison on SNSs augments the risk of depressive symptoms among adolescents.

Keywords

Citation

Li, Y. (2019), "Upward social comparison and depression in social network settings", Internet Research, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 46-59. https://doi.org/10.1108/IntR-09-2017-0358

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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