Precis: “Social media social comparison and identity distress at the college transition: A dual-path model”

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Russell, Kambry

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In Yang et al.’s study, researchers seek to identify how social comparison on social media influences individuals’ identity formation during the transition from high school to college. They do so through studying two processes that are related to social media use. First of all, individuals may competitively compare their abilities to others’ on social media in a judgmental way, namely comparing physical attractiveness, social likability, positive experiences, and other factors. This type of judgmental comparison was predicted to lead to rumination, or dwelling on repetitive, negative thoughts about the self. Secondly, individuals may compare their opinions with others’ on social media from a non-judgmental perspective. Using social media in this open, curious manner was predicted to lead to reflection, which allows individuals to analyze their own beliefs. By studying these two processes of social comparison, researchers were able to identify what role each process plays in the formation of these individuals’ identities.

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