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Female Facebookers post more photos of themselves to boost self-esteem

Posted by Bradley Wint on 08/03/2011

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A study coming out of the University of Buffalo has revealed that women are more likely to post many photos of themselves via social networking sites to feel better about themselves.

The paper concluded that women maintained much larger online social networks and had the tendency to update their blogs and profiles more often than men. Also, they upload more photos of themselves to boost them self-esteem and self-worth. The study surveyed 311 people (49.8% female, 50.2% male) started off with 3 hypotheses focusing on the size of indivuals’ social networks, time spent updating profiles and sharing photos, the likelihood of “friending” strangers and the time spent managing real life/offline social groups. They considered two factors: Self Esteem and Contingencies of Self-worth, in both private and public situations.

In both the self esteem and self worth departments, women posted more photos online because they were concerned about how the public would judge them, and getting those positive comments from friends would usually boost both self esteem and self worthiness.

The self-worth theory of achievement motivation suggests people are motivated to construct an image of themselves as competent.18 This CSW is based on competence and is an example of a self-preservation goal. Crocker and Knight suggest ‘‘the importance of SE lies less in whether it is high or low, and more in what people believe they need to be or do to have value and worth as a person.’

They even concluded that girls who were dissatisfied with their personal appearances were still likely to share photos online because  they “believe that appearance is an important component of one’s self-worth.” Also “people may share a large number of photos because their self-worth is at stake.” They did give exceptions to those who liked to showcase themselves as part of their personal love for photography, but the former would point towards a majority of females since a lot were focused on self-worth. It was found that females with larger social networks also did much more management and shared more photos than those with less friends.

Interestingly enough, those who valued more private-oriented activities such as spending time with family and close friends, were less likely to spend a lot of time online and didn’t put much value into how they were judged  from the outside (public) and generally sought less online attention. Finally, it was found that the Facebook users in general have not met 12% of their friends in a face-to-face situation.

The lead researcher, Dr. Michael A. Stefanone, mentioned that the stereotype of image-conscious women continues to live on in the present era and that “it is disappointing to me that in the year 2011 so many young women continue to assert their self-worth via their physical appearance.”

Do you all agree with the findings, or just think it’s all a bunch of hokum?

Read the entire paper here.

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