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Exploring the Relationship between Instagram Appearance Anxiety and Related Constructs

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Adolescents and young adults use social media to connect and communicate more than ever, with nearly three quarters of American teenagers utilizing Instagram and making it the most popular photo sharing platform (Roesler, 2018). Users post pictures and videos often designed to portray an idealized lifestyle, with positive social feedback indexed by the number of viewings, likes, and positive comments the posts receive. Sherlock and Wagstaff (2018) reported that the frequency of Instagram use is correlated with depressive symptoms, self-esteem, general and physical appearance anxiety, and body dissatisfaction. Such symptoms may be exacerbated by the extent of positive social feedback received and the platform recently announced a trial program to deter a focus on content performance by hiding performance metrics (Instagram, 2019). The current research aims to more fully explore the connection between users' social anxiety and Instagram use. Specifically, a two-phase program was designed to investigate the relationship between female undergraduates' patterns of Instagram usage and self-reported levels of social appearance anxiety. An exploratory survey was designed to assess how patterns of Instagram usage may affect participants' self-esteem, social anxiety, and social appearance anxiety. These findings will be used to guide an experimental design manipulating photographic content and perceived liking to explore causality between variables. Results, implications and future directions will be discussed.

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Exploring the Relationship between Instagram Appearance Anxiety and Related Constructs

Adolescents and young adults use social media to connect and communicate more than ever, with nearly three quarters of American teenagers utilizing Instagram and making it the most popular photo sharing platform (Roesler, 2018). Users post pictures and videos often designed to portray an idealized lifestyle, with positive social feedback indexed by the number of viewings, likes, and positive comments the posts receive. Sherlock and Wagstaff (2018) reported that the frequency of Instagram use is correlated with depressive symptoms, self-esteem, general and physical appearance anxiety, and body dissatisfaction. Such symptoms may be exacerbated by the extent of positive social feedback received and the platform recently announced a trial program to deter a focus on content performance by hiding performance metrics (Instagram, 2019). The current research aims to more fully explore the connection between users' social anxiety and Instagram use. Specifically, a two-phase program was designed to investigate the relationship between female undergraduates' patterns of Instagram usage and self-reported levels of social appearance anxiety. An exploratory survey was designed to assess how patterns of Instagram usage may affect participants' self-esteem, social anxiety, and social appearance anxiety. These findings will be used to guide an experimental design manipulating photographic content and perceived liking to explore causality between variables. Results, implications and future directions will be discussed.