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Sep 15 16

Why Do We Compare on Social Media?

by Benjamin

In our latest article, Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick and I investigate how mood motivates social comparisons on social networking sites. Previously, we observed patterns of self-enhancing downward social comparison when people were in negative mood states and the comparison targets involved aggregated cues (i.e., crowdsourced ratings). In our new article at Human Communication Research, we report two experiments that show that the presence of vivid profile content (e.g., images or photographic indicators) or the need to affiliate with a group may lead to more upward patterns of self-enhancement. This involves latching onto, or assimilating, with more attractive or more successful peers. These peers can be inspiring, or we can bask in their reflected glory.

In a related project, Jaap Ouwerkerk and I recently published a study where we illustrate how different personality traits are associated with the motive to “hate-follow” or befriend people online who are sources of downward social comparison and schadenfreude. We also identified motives for inspiration-driven friending, insecurity-driven friending, and more sociable friending. You can find the 40-item measure on my “Scales” page, or over at Social Media + Society (open-access).


Jun 16 16

New Articles on Self-Expansion and Entertainment

by Benjamin

Two new publications by me and coauthors are now available online.

In this month’s Journal of Communication, we have the latest TEBOTS (temporarily expanded boundaries of the self) article (see previous theory and ego-depletion pieces). In the new article, we use self-affirmation to alleviate daily threats to the self, and show that those people in the control group (i.e., those who still had threats) were more responsive to narratives. We also develop and test a new measure, the 10-item boundary expansion scale.


Over at Media Psychology, I’m part another collaboration, this time with Allison Eden and Serena Daalmans, looking at morally ambiguous characters. The project does several cool things – first it uses crowdsourced categories of antiheroes from as stimuli, but then it asks participants to nominate an antihero from one of those categories and report a variety of narrative responses they’ve had to that character. Primarily, we show that traditional justice-restoration (i.e., morality) is tied to hedonic enjoyment, while expanding the self-concept (i.e., TEBOTS-ing) is tied to eudaimonic appreciation.


I hope you’ll check out these new publications, as they have exciting findings about self-expansion and its role in entertainment.


Jun 6 16

ICA Fukuoka 2016

by Benjamin

I am thrilled to have several posters at this year’s ICA conference. Stop by and say hello!

Sunday, June 12, 9:30-10:45 in Argos D
Johnson, B. K., Eden, A., & Reinecke, L. (2016, June). Self-control and need satisfaction in primetime: Television, social media, and friends can enhance regulatory resources via perceived autonomy and competence.

Sunday, June 12, 11:00-12:15 in Argos E
Johnson, B. K., & Ranzini, G. (2016, June). Click here to look clever: Self-presentation via selective sharing of music and film on social media.

Ouwerkerk, J. W., & Johnson, B. K. (2016, June). Motives for online friending and following: The dark side of social network site connections.

Monday, June 13, 15:30-16:45 in Argos D
Johnson, B. K., & Rosenbaum, J. E. (2016, June). Don’t tell me how it ends: Testing effects of narrative spoilers for film and television.