I am so honored to have received the 2020 Linda L. Putnam Early Career Scholar Award from the International Communication Association! As I said in my acceptance speech, shown in the picture below, I feel so proud to be part of such a wonderful community of organizational communication scholars. I’m incredibly grateful for all the ICA Org Comm Division has done to help me in my early career!
Despite the public’s awareness of social media addiction, academic research in this realm remains limited. One of our social media team’s newest studies seeks to fill this gap in the research, seeking to understand predictors of social media addiction across four of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. We take a biopsychosocial approach to demonstrate that biological (age), social (including gender, intensity of use, need for social media, and social com- parison), and psychological factors (specifically stress, empathic concern, conscientiousness, and depression) predict social media addiction. Our findings show that although younger individuals are highly susceptible to social media addiction, users who manifest empathy toward others may have an enhanced psychological resiliency against addiction. Hope you enjoy this read!
KVUE reporter Bryce Newberry interviewed me for his story about Instagram removing the publicly visible number of “likes.” Instagram says their goal is to “depressurize” the platform, particularly for young users. However, our research shows that social comparisons–which are associated with depression and anxiety–will likely still exist because we likely compare ourselves to other users’ posts overall, not other users’ number of likes. In addition, posters will still see the number of likes they received, privately, and this metric is more likely to be tied directly to one’s level of self-esteem.
This latest publication identified two key social media factors most strongly associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder: participants comparing themselves to others better off and posting while drinking alcohol. In addition to being published here, this research was featured on KVUE and BobcatUpdate.
Yaguang Zhu and I have published another piece together! Our latest study, titled “Personal-organizational processes in workplace health promotion: Understanding wellness program participation in China” shows the role of two personal–organizational processes–perceived organizational support and organizational identification–in predicting wellness program participation. Scholars had previously explained either personal (e.g., embarrassment; Stainbrook & Green, 1989) or organizational (e.g., problematic implementation; James & Zoller, 2017) reasons that employees might not participate in health programs at work. This study breaks new theoretical ground by exploring processes that are simultaneously personal and organizational, demonstrating that employees’ perceived organizational support can promote organizational identification, which in turn may bolster participation in workplace wellness initiatives. Our findings open the door for future work to explore other personal–organizational factors that might relate to workplace wellness program involvement, such as the role of organizational social media use or perceptions of work–life conflict. We hope you’ll read it here!
I was honored to speak on the award-winning “Super Awesome Science Show” podcast this week! On this week’s episode, Jason and I talk about some of the research about social media and problems associated with excessive use. I hope you learn something new and interesting by listening!
Our interdisciplinary social media research team has published another piece in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences. This study, led by Dr. Krista Howard in the department of Psychology, explores factors associated with malicious trolling behaviors. Specifically, our research found that participants who identified as male, reported greater need for participation in social media, and greater likelihood to make downward social comparisons on social media were more likely to engage in trolling. These findings, which you can read more about here, help us gain a better understanding of trolls on social media, which we hope lead to more prevention and intervention opportunities.
Our interdisciplinary published another important study, “Social comparisons, social media addiction, and social interactions: An examination of specific social media behaviors related to major depressive disorder in a Millennial population,” which aimed to identify specific social media behaviors related to major depressive disorder (MDD). Millennials (N = 504) who actively use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Snapchat participated in an online survey assessing major depression and specific social media behaviors. The results identified five key social media factors associated with MDD. Individuals who were more likely to compare themselves to others better off than they were (p = 0.005), those who indicated that they would be more bothered by being tagged in unflattering pictures (p = 0.011), and those less likely to post pictures of themselves along with other people (p = 0.015) were more likely to meet the criteria for MDD. Participants following 300+ Twitter accounts were less likely to have MDD (p = 0.041), and those with higher scores on the Social Media Addiction scale were significantly more likely to meet the criteria for MDD (p = 0.031). Participating in negative social media behaviors is associated with a higher likelihood of having MDD.
You can read our study here, which has also been featured on several news outlets, including Good Morning America (see below) and U.S. News & World Report.