Women who base their self worth on their appearance share more photos on Facebook and have a larger network of friends, according to new research from the University of Buffalo.
Michael A. Stefanone, PhD, says the results suggest women identify more strongly with their image and appearance, and use Facebook as a way to compete for attention.
“The results suggest persistent differences in the behavior of men and women that result from a cultural focus on female image and appearance,” said Stefanone.
In the study, 311 participants with an average age of 23.3 years — 49.8 percent of whom were female — completed a questionnaire measuring their contingencies of self worth. They were also asked about their typical behaviors on Facebook.
“Those whose self esteem is based on public-based contingencies (defined here as others’ approval, physical appearance and outdoing others in competition) were more involved in online photo sharing, and those whose self-worth is most contingent on appearance have a higher intensity of online photo sharing,” said Stefanone.
The purpose of the study was to investigate variables that explain specific online behavior on social network sites. Among other things, the team looked at the amount of time subjects spent managing profiles, the number of photos they shared, the size of their online networks and how promiscuous they were in terms of “friending” behavior.
“Although it’s stereotypical and might have been predicted,” he says, “it is disappointing to me that in the year 2011 so many young women continue to assert their self worth via their physical appearance — in this case, by posting photos of themselves on Facebook as a form of advertisement.”
“Perhaps this reflects the distorted value pegged to women’s looks throughout the popular culture and in reality programming from ‘The Bachelor’ to ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians.'”
The study, “Contingencies of Self-Worth and Social-Networking-Site Behavior,”is published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.