This study examined how social networking site (SNS) users' social comparison orientations indirectly affect their psychological well-being via four types of social comparison-based emotions. Based on national survey data, we found that social comparison-based emotions mediated the relationships between Facebook users' social comparison orientations and psychological well-being. If Facebook users have a stronger ability-based social comparison orientation, their psychological well-being decreases via upward contrastive emotions (e.g., depression and envy) toward the comparison other; however, it increases via downward assimilative emotions (e.g., worry and sympathy). By contrast, if Facebook users have a stronger opinion-based social comparison orientation, their psychological well-being increases via increased feelings of upward assimilative emotions (e.g., optimism and inspiration) or decreased feelings of upward contrastive emotions (e.g., depression and envy) towards the comparison other. These results indicate that the effects of social comparison on psychological well-being on SNSs become positive or negative depending on whether the users’ social comparison orientation emphasized ability or opinion, and the type of emotions triggered by the comparison. We provide theoretical discussions and practical suggestions for psychologically healthy SNS use based on these empirical findings.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Human-Computer Interaction