Compassionate and Self-Image Goals as Predictors of Behaviour and Experiences on Facebook

Tobin, S. J. (Queensland University of Technology), Chant, G. (Australian Catholic University), Clay, R. (Australian Catholic University), Hutton, L. (Australian Catholic University)

Past research indicates that compassionate and self-image goals are important predictors of people’s behaviour and experiences in their close relationships. We examined these goals in a social media context. A correlational study (N = 187) of mainly university students revealed that participants who were higher in compassionate goals engaged in more active following of and communication with Facebook friends, which, in turn, predicted greater social capital sources and benefits. In contrast, participants who were higher in self-image goals engaged in more monitoring and building of their social networks on Facebook, which, in turn, predicted greater social comparison and envy.  These associations held when controlling for age, gender, other aspects of Facebook use, socially desirable responding, self-esteem, and attachment style. An experiment (N = 123) tested whether primed compassionate and self-image goals would affect thoughts, feelings, and responses to hypothetical positive and negative Facebook posts. Although manipulated goals did not affect responses to the Facebook posts, correlations between reported thoughts, feelings, and responses supported predictions. Compassionate thoughts and feelings were associated with communication, while self-image thoughts and feelings were associated with passive responses. These results support and extend the relevant literatures on interpersonal goals and social media use.

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—- TYREE —–
Close Relationships and Individual Differences