Feeling Better But Doing Worse: Effects of Facebook Self-Presentation on Implicit Self-Esteem and Cognitive Task Performance

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This study uses self-affirmation theory to draw predictions about the effect of Facebook profile self-presentation on two psychological outcomes: users' state self-esteem and their performance in a cognitive task. In an experimental procedure, participants were randomly assigned to examine either their own profiles, which tend to highlight social connectedness and treasured aspects of the self, or a stranger's profile. Afterward, participants reported their self-esteem using an implicit measure that is immune to reporting biases, and completed a serial subtraction task. Results show that a brief exposure to one's own profile raised state self-esteem, but that it hampered performance in a subsequent cognitive task by decreasing the motivation to perform well. The results advance the emerging literature on the effects of online self-presentation and also provide a theoretical contribution to self-affirmation theory.

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  • Catalina L. Toma

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