Mirror, Mirror on My Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem

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CYBERPSYCHOLOGY, BEHAVIOR, AND SOCIAL NETWORKING Volume 14, Number 1-2, 2011 ª Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2009.0411 Mirror, Mirror on my Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem Amy L. Gonzales, M.A., and Jeffrey T. Hancock, Ph.D. Abstract Contrasting hypotheses were posed to test the effect of Facebook exposure on self-esteem. Objective SelfAwareness (OSA) from social psychology and the Hyperpersonal Model from computer-mediated communication were used to argue that Facebook would either diminish or enhance self-esteem respectively. The results revealed that, in contrast to previous work on OSA, becoming self-aware by viewing one’s own Facebook profile enhances self-esteem rather than…show more content…
This usually results in a greater sense of humility, or downgraded ratings of self, and increased pro-social behavior. For example, people report feeling greater responsibility for social injustice,11 or are less likely to take an extra helping of candy without 79 80 being observed.12 On the other hand, because most people often fall short of social standards when self-awareness is heightened, positive affect and self-esteem typically decrease when people are exposed to objective self-awareness stimuli.13 The stimuli used to evoke objective self-awareness is most commonly a mirror,13 although other stimuli include images of the self,14 audio feedback,15 having a video camera pointed at participants,16 or having participants write autobiographical information.11 These stimuli cause people to view themselves as they believe others do, even if they are not immediately under observation. Exposure to these stimuli is what leads to pro-social behavior and decreases in self-esteem. Given that social-networking profiles include information about the self similar to the type of information that is used to prompt objective self-awareness (e.g., photos, autobiographical information), viewing one’s profile should prompt a downgrading of self-esteem according to OSA theory. That is, viewing one’s Facebook profile should negatively affect one’s self-esteem.
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