Passive social media use and psychological well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of social comparison and emotion regulation.
Yue Z, Zhang R, Xiao J.
Computers in human behavior. 2022; 127(): 107050

Abstract

Social media browsing is commonly seen as a trigger of unhealthy social comparison (i.e., upward contrast), which negatively affects well-being. One underlying assumption is the predominance of positive self-presentation on social media, which may have shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic when negative disclosures have become more prevalent. In this study, we conceptualize social comparison as a multi-dimensional construct based on different comparing targets and processes, and explore how individual (i.e., cognitive reappraisal) and contextual (i.e., quarantine status) factors may influence the relationships among passive social media use, social comparison and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on a survey with 1131 Wuhan residents in China, we found that passive social media use was positively related to both upward contrast and downward identification, which in turn predicted a higher level of stress. Cognitive reappraisal was negatively associated with unhealthy social comparison (i.e., upward contrast and downward identification) but was positively related to healthy social comparison such as upward identification. Quarantined people tended to report more upward contrast, especially when they engaged in more frequent social media browsing. This study contributes to the larger debate about the impact of social media on mental health and offers practical implications. CI - (c) 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



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